Chargers confident in Tyrod Taylor as their Philip Rivers insurance plan

Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor runs with the ball during a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals Aug. 8 at State Farm Stadium.
Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor runs with the ball during a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals Aug. 8 at State Farm Stadium.
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The performance was so staggeringly dreadful that it lives on today with its own proper name: “The Nathan Peterman Game.”

As bad as Peterman’s five-interception first half was against the Chargers in November 2017 — and it set records for awful — the afternoon wasn’t exactly great for Tyrod Taylor, either.

“There were a lot of emotions that day, a lot of different feelings,” Taylor said. “I can’t necessarily explain all that right now.”

Benched in favor of Peterman in a decision that instantly became part of Buffalo Bills lunatic lore, Taylor maintained his professionalism, gathered his wits and his teammates, and led the whole bunch into the playoffs anyway.

Reinstated as the starter, he guided the Bills to a 4-2 finish and the franchise’s only postseason berth over the last 19 seasons.


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He never complained publicly. He never pouted. He never went the slightest bit diva.

All he did was come in and finish, closing with authority, like any good reliever.

That’s the guy the Chargers now have warming up in the bullpen if anything were to happen to Philip Rivers.

“He’s a pro’s pro,” quarterback coach Shane Steichen said. “If you can get a lot of players like that on a team, you’re probably going to have success in this league. He’s one of those guys that just takes care of his business.”

The Chargers hope Taylor never receives a meaningful snap this season, which would mean another healthy year for Rivers, who has started 219 consecutive games — including the playoffs — since he took over in 2006.

But if the backup is needed, the Chargers believe they have in Taylor one of the NFL’s most reliable insurance policies at the position.

To understand how important that is for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, just consider what Nick Foles meant to the title-winning 2017 Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’m confident,” Taylor said. “I know my teammates are confident in my ability. I just gotta keep doing whatever it takes each day to help this team. You can’t compare situations.

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“It’s different years, different players, different teams. You never know what might happen. I know I’ll be ready to do anything I can to help this organization if the opportunity presents itself. If it doesn’t, I’ll just be the best teammate I can be.”

Taylor, entering his ninth season, was taken in the sixth round by Baltimore in 2011. He was the 11th of 12 quarterbacks drafted that year. Those selected before him include Ryan Mallett, Ricky Stanzi and Nathan Enderle.

He spent four years with the Ravens behind Joe Flacco, won a Super Bowl in 2012 and attempted only 35 regular-season passes.

Because of those largely inactive years, Taylor, now 30, is one of the NFL’s least appreciated, most forgotten longtime veterans.

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn was shocked in June to learn that Taylor had enough tenure to skip the team’s final day of minicamp under the very guidelines Lynn had established.

“It slips my mind sometimes too,” Taylor said, laughing. “I don’t feel old by any means. It’s been a journey, but it’s also been a blessing.”

Still, he already has watched two of his former Baltimore teammates — Ray Lewis and Ed Reed — enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Then again, Taylor shared the field in his first Chargers game — in the preseason in Arizona — with ex-Raven Terrell Suggs, who now plays for the Cardinals.

“When I got drafted in ’11, I thought he was a super veteran back then,” Taylor said. “He’s definitely a super, super veteran now.”

After three years as the starter in Buffalo, Taylor was traded to Cleveland for a third-round pick in March 2018.

The next month, the Browns drafted Baker Mayfield.

Taylor started the first three weeks of the regular season, was sidelined because of a concussion and then was buried with the rest of Cleveland by Baker-palooza.

“You can’t let anything in this NFL surprise you,” Taylor said. “I have great faith in my ability, and I’ll stand on whatever’s meant for me. God will make everything work out.”

After opening four consecutive seasons as his team’s starter, Taylor signed with the Chargers in March knowing, barring calamity, he has zero chance of starting.

He received a two-year deal worth up to $11 million, with $6 million guaranteed, and — as has been the case everywhere he has been — showed up for his first day of work at 5 a.m. to work out.

Taylor could have delayed signing, waiting to see if an opportunity to compete for a starting job arrived, but that possibility seemed slight.

As it turned out, Miami was the only team in training camp with an unsettled quarterback situation that didn’t involve a highly touted rookie looking to break through.

“I’m a competitor,” Taylor said. “Of course, I want to play. But those opportunities don’t always open up.

“You can’t turn down something like I had on the table. I’m comfortable with the decision that I made. I think it was the right fit.”

Just as importantly, so do the Chargers.