Tyrod Taylor is accustomed to playing the quarterback position with a clean and cautious precision, swiftly adapting on the fly to scramble and deliver accurate spirals.
That’s why it was such a jarring sight when the Texans’ veteran quarterback turned in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance against the Miami Dolphins in his first game back from a Grade 2 hamstring injury that sidelined him for six games.
Taylor threw three interceptions in a loss to the Dolphins, including a blooper-reel worthy one picked off by linebacker Jerome Baker when he made a careless throw intended to go out of bounds, as the Texans went 0 for 4 in the red zone.
“Timing, some balls out there that I left out on the field,” Taylor said. “Some plays that were left on the field as well, too. Typically, you make those plays. I never look at it and blame the time off. I was fully confident going into that game in my ability to go out and perform at a high level, just didn’t meet that mark.
“Watch it with a critical eye, put it behind me, eyes forward and continue playing well. It didn’t weigh on me mentally. Obviously, you want to go out there and win a game, but you learn from it, put it behind you and keep moving forward.”
A former Pro Bowl selection with the Buffalo Bills, Taylor, 32, surprised many by playing so poorly because of how he excelled during the first six quarters of the regular season before injuring his left leg.
Taylor had a season-low 42.8 passer rating against the Dolphins and their Zero blitz package that led to five sacks after posting a 144.3 rating and a 90.91 completion percentage against the Cleveland Browns before getting hurt while running for a touchdown. He had a 112.1 passer rating with two touchdowns, no interceptions and 40 rushing yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 1-8 Texans’ lone victory of the season.
“He’s a 10-year veteran, he’s been there and he’s done that,” Texans coach David Culley said. “He’s had a game under his belt. It was eight weeks before he played a football game.
“He came back and played a football game, did not play very well, was not very sharp. That game will obviously help him. He’s always been a guy that doesn’t make the same mistakes twice and I hope moving forward that’s how we go with him.”
Squaring off against the 8-2 and first-place Tennessee Titans on the road Sunday, Taylor faces unique challenges against an aggressive pass rush headlined by Jeffery Simmons, Harold Landry and Denico Autry.
Simmons is particularly disruptive.
“Very fierce rusher, he’s one of the best in the league," Taylor said. "Big human being, moves well, very strong. We definitely have our work cut out for him, but have tremendous confidence in our guys to be able to go out and perform at a high level against him.”
Having passed for 10,426 career yards, 57 touchdowns and just 23 interceptions, Taylor anticipates bouncing back against Tennessee.
“Definitely. I believe so,” Taylor said. “Obviously, the last outing in Miami wasn’t a winning one or an opportunity to give the offense to go out there and put up points. Definitely something to clean up and watch with a critical eye. I had the bye week to also work on some things and looking forward to getting back on the field this week and bouncing back personally and also as a team.”
Taylor connected on only 24 of 43 passes for 240 yards against the Dolphins, struggling to deal with an unpredictable blitz selection that also confused Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in an upset victory the following week.
Taylor, who has passed for 656 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions for an 83.3 passer rating below his career 89.9 mark, reinforced to teammates in the locker room that he was at fault for what happened.
“I expect for him to come out and play well,” Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly said. “Last week was very uncharacteristic of him as far as some of the decisions that he made that ended up in turnovers. So, he knows that. We talked about it and we feel like we got that corrected. I’m looking forward to him coming out and bouncing back and again playing a cleaner game.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 years. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He's on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.