Jason Taylor: Why the Dolphins Rusher Still Has One Good Year Left
The NFL's shortened offseason led everyone to believe there would be chaos once the free agency period began.
Everyone was right.
In the past weeks, teams have restructured their rosters, added depth, made trades, and done whatever necessary to put themselves in position to compete for a championship (or to compete for Andrew Luck). While the Jason Taylor acquisition for the Dolphins wouldn't qualify as a high profile signing for 31 other teams, it does in Miami. In the Dolphins front office, this is not a publicity stunt. Taylor is expected to be an important part of a very good defense, and I believe he can be.
Let's begin by saying that the only way a 36-year-old speed rusher can be effective at all is if he is in incredible football shape. That has never been an issue with Taylor, who has looked as strong as ever during training camp. Has he lost a step? Sure, but his freakish conditioning is the main reason Taylor has missed only three games in the past 11 years. And those were all in one season!
Last year, he finished with five sacks, 36 tackles and a safety for the Jets, while starting only five times. Those are certainly solid numbers for what the Dolphins and Jets both see as a "situational rusher" in this stage of his career. He also finished with six passes defended—an important stat given that that was a big area of concern with last year's core of Dolphins linebackers. In 2009 with the Dolphins, Taylor had seven sacks and 42 tackles, again without missing a game. A player of his caliber can not only be a presence on the field, but also a mentor to Pro-Bowler Cameron Wake, who is undoubtedly the anchor of this defense.
Motivation is clearly a huge factor for Taylor, who just so happened to have his worst season in his brief stint in Washington. That was an awkward marriage from the beginning, with Taylor leaving Miami after 11 seasons and never quite fitting in with the 'Skins. I'm guessing his motivation level may be even higher without Bill Parcells running the team. He and Taylor had what the sports world loves to refer to as a messy divorce, which ended in Taylor bolting for the hated Jets. Taylor most likely would not have come back to his original team had Parcells still been running the show, and said so himself in a recent interview.
For a 15-year veteran to have something to prove is rare, but that may just be the case with the Dolphins all-time sack leader. The current Dolphins front office not only values the potential for the future Hall-of-Famer to retire a Dolphin, but also the potential for JT to have a major impact on an already rock-solid defense.
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