What could flip Taylor's Jets hate to love?

April, 7, 2010
4/07/10
2:07
PM ET
Throughout his career with the Miami Dolphins, star pass-rusher Jason Taylor didn't conceal his contempt for the New York Jets.

In a collection of comments posted earlier, Taylor calls Jets fans "ignorant," their stadium a "hellhole" and their famous "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" chant "dumb-ass."

"Some Jets fans take the 'c-l' out of class," is another Taylor quote.

[+] EnlargeJason Taylor
Doug Murray/Icon SMIJason Taylor would be a nice fit as a pass-rush specialist in the Jets' 3-4 schemes.
So what could possibly change Taylor's mind enough to swallow those words and sign a contract with the Jets?

He's not desperate. It's early April. The Dolphins reportedly have talked to him about re-signing. The Jets are bound by the "final eight" plan and can't throw fistfuls of money at him.

But there are reasons Taylor could be swayed, and much of it has to do with the dynamic culture the Jets have fostered.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan: Not even Dolphins inside linebacker Channing Crowder could remain upset with Ryan.

They publicly feuded last summer, but Crowder developed a genuine respect for Ryan as a defensive master and fun-loving dude.

"It's hard for me to say this, but I'm honest. I like Rex now," Crowder told me the week before the Super Bowl. "He's a funny guy. He first became a head coach, [their feud] was one of the first things that happened. I was like 'Who's this guy?' That's when everything kind of manifested.

"Now that I see what kind of guy he is, he seems like a funny guy, a funny coach. I'm starting to lean towards ol' Rex. I might give him a hug when I see him."

Jets receiver Jerricho Cotchery made a similar point with me last week while talking about Ryan's role in making the Jets a team opposing fans love to hate. Cotchery noted players around the league are envious of the atmosphere Ryan has cultivated.

"A lot of players don't experience that fun," Cotchery said. "There are some people on the other sidelines who are jealous."

A new stadium and headquarters: The Jets' training facility isn't two years old yet, and they're moving into a dazzling new Meadowlands stadium this year. Those who have toured the $1.6 billion structure have been amazed.

"I was blown away," Ryan said of his first tour. "The stadium is massive. It's just a great place to watch a game, and I can't wait to play a game in that stadium with our fans rocking. If our fans come out the way they did for the last Cincinnati game and the first New England game, whoo, are we going to be tough to beat."

The Jets' defense is in much better shape: The Jets boasted the NFL's top-rated total defense, scoring defense and passing defense in 2009. Their defense was the backbone of a team that reached the AFC Championship Game, and there's no reason to think it won't be great again this year.

Taylor would be a great fit as a pass-rush specialist in Ryan's aggressive 3-4 schemes.

"That would be an excellent acquisition," Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson wrote to me in an e-mail. "My worry is that Taylor would wear down, but they have enough bodies at the position to keep him fresh. Plus, he would have to be a good influence on Vernon Gholston -- you would think, at least.

"Taylor isn't as explosive as he once was, for sure. But he does understand how to set up blockers and is a pretty cerebral player overall. He keeps containment well, feels blocking schemes and can be pretty stout versus the run.

"He would make an excellent defense even better."

The Dolphins' defense, meanwhile, is in a state of flux. It could turn out to be formidable under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but the unit has been overhauled. Gone are defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, outside linebackers coach Jim Reid and inside linebackers coach George Edwards.

Also gone from the front seven are outside linebacker Joey Porter, a captain, and inside linebacker Akin Ayodele. Another defensive captain, nose tackle Jason Ferguson, will be suspended the first eight games of the season.

It's the Big Apple: Taylor doesn't plan to retire into anonymity when his playing days are over. The reason he accepted an invitation to compete on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2008 was to help lay a foundation for a career in the entertainment industry.

The Jets recently were selected to be the featured club for this year's edition of "Hard Knocks" on HBO. Taylor, with his striking looks and on-field résumé, would be one of the leading characters.

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