In the End, a Good Fit
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Taylor will be on the field with the Washington Redskins for the first time this morning, with coaches and teammates envisioning his presence ultimately elevating all aspects of a defense long in need of a strong pass rusher.
Taylor traveled from Miami to Redskins Park yesterday and joined his teammates for evening meetings after a wild two days.
Taylor, the NFL defensive player of the year in 2006, ended his 11-year tenure with the Dolphins on Sunday, when the Redskins acquired him for two draft picks. Taylor, who turns 34 in September, had clashed with Miami's management throughout the offseason.
When the Redskins lost starting left defensive end Phillip Daniels for the season on the first play of training camp Sunday, they immediately pursued Taylor.
"A piece of my heart will always remain in Miami," Taylor said at his introductory news conference yesterday, "but I am happy to be a Redskin."
Taylor, who has more sacks than any NFL player since 2000 (100 1/2 ), provides an obvious upgrade to a line that often failed to pressure the quarterback consistently. Stationing a playmaker of his caliber opposite end Andre Carter (the only previous pass-rushing threat on the roster) should create opportunities for his fellow linemen, as well as for linebackers and defensive backs.
"The whole defense will benefit," middle linebacker London Fletcher said.
Taylor's age and desire to pursue a career in Hollywood kept some teams from trading for him -- the Dolphins began shopping him before April's draft -- but executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and his staff were confident he could remain productive for years to come, and Taylor said he gladly will fulfill the two years left on his contract. "I'll be here for more than one year," he said.
"He'll be a good addition because he fits the type of guy we look for here," defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "He's got the M.O. of a real nasty guy that plays the game for 60 minutes."
Blache said he has yet to finalize how he will fully use him, but Taylor is planning to move to the left side, with Carter staying on the right.
"While it will be different from what I've done the majority of my career," Taylor said of playing left end, "I have done plenty of it, and had some success over there, too."
The Redskins hope to be able to emulate more closely the multi-faceted pass rush the New York Giants rode to a Super Bowl championship last season. With Taylor here, teams no longer can double-team just Carter with a tight end or use a back to chip block him to negate the bulk of the pass rush.