Tyrod Taylor has yet again found himself in a familiar spot. Three years after getting forced out of Buffalo for first-round pick Josh Allen and two years after getting ousted from Cleveland for first-round pick Baker Mayfield, he holds the top spot on the Los Angeles Chargers depth chart with first-round pick Justin Herbert sitting behind him. For now, that is.
Given Taylor's journeyman career as a solid-at-best QB who will be 31 when the season starts, most assume it's a foregone conclusion that Taylor will be replaced at some point in 2020 by Herbert, the man the team selected in hopes of finding a new face of the franchise. NFL Network's Mike Silver disagrees, and said as much today, explaining why he believes Taylor will be under center for all of the 2020 season:
I half-agree with Silver here. It isn't a secret that Anthony Lynn loves Taylor, and reports have suggested all offseason that Lynn wants to run the kind of conservative, mobile QB offense that Taylor succeeded in with Lynn in Buffalo. Whether they actually believe it or not, the Chargers have to put forth the view that they believe they can win this year, because they want to draw fans to their new stadium. On paper, they have enough talent to not bottom out. Given the importance of public perception for the franchise right now, if they believe Taylor gives them a chance to win even one more game than Herbert would, Taylor will start until he proves otherwise.
One of the biggest knocks against Herbert coming into the draft is that he isn't a terribly vocal leader or personality. Silver contrasts that with Taylor's previous stop in Cleveland, essentially suggesting that Mayfield's magnetic persona meant it was inevitable he would replace Taylor. The fact that Herbert is not like that decreases the likelihood of him replacing Taylor in 2020, according to Silver. If Taylor himself were that kind of outgoing leader, Herbert's soft-spoken manner could be an obstacle towards claiming that starting job. But, from everything we've heard, Taylor is way more like Herbert than he is Mayfield. So, with that in mind, I very much doubt how charismatic Herbert is will be playing a big factor in whether or not he ends up the starting signal-caller.
As it always does, this will come down to winning. It's not exactly insightful, but also not wrong, for me to point out that Herbert will be handed the top spot on the depth chart on a silver platter if the Chargers go 2-6 or 3-5 in the first half of the year with Taylor at the helm. But I don't think they'll have to lose that many games to consider a change. If Taylor is as expected and plays just well enough to secure a .500 record halfway through the season, the Chargers will still definitely be thinking about Herbert. They play in the same division as the reigning champs and Patrick Mahomes, who is just getting started. Seeing if Herbert can become Mahomes' in-division rival for the next decade is more important than Taylor getting the team three more wins than they would have otherwise.
Of course, as previously mentioned, the Chargers are in a position where they can't exactly come out and say that. The hope of fans is that they know it, anyway. Whether they act on that will prove Silver right or wrong here.