NFL Nation: Jim Reid

What could flip Taylor's Jets hate to love?

April, 7, 2010
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.


Draft Watch: AFC East

March, 3, 2010
» NFC Schemes/Themes: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Schemes and themes.

Buffalo Bills: As if the Bills didn't have enough holes to fill, they've chosen to overhaul their defense. New coach Chan Gailey and defensive coordinator George Edwards are converting a Tampa 2 defense into a 3-4. They're missing the keystone of that scheme, a blocker-absorbing nose tackle. Logic would suggest the Bills draft either a nose tackle or an offensive tackle with the ninth overall pick, but they had the need for a left tackle last year and selected pass-rusher Aaron Maybin with the 11th pick. The 3-4 switch is good news for Maybin because he was invisible as a rookie and projects better as an outside linebacker. Still, the Bills will need to infuse that position with more talent in this transformation.

Miami Dolphins: Because quarterbacks coach David Lee and offensive coordinator Dan Henning were the Wildcat innovators, many look at their draft needs through that prism. They didn't disappoint the prognosticators last year when they reached to draft scat quarterback Pat White in the second round for the purposes of using him in their direct-snap offense. I'd be surprised if the Dolphins drafted for Wildcat purposes again this year. White's selection was a disappointment. He was no threat as a passer, and the coaches couldn't figure out a way to use him. Another theme to watch is how the Dolphins draft linebackers. They didn't like the way their linebackers performed under defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, inside linebackers coach Edwards (now with the Bills) and outside linebackers coach Jim Reid. All three coaches are gone.

New England Patriots: The Patriots have incredible flexibility entering the draft with four selections among the top 53 slots. They can go any direction they choose, but will Bill Belichick keep his picks or barter them? The Patriots have tweaks to make all over the place, particularly on defense. Fortunately for the organization, Belichick has a much better success rate when it comes to identifying defensive players early. Some of the Patriots biggest draft mistakes on Belichick's watch have been on offense. They found a keeper with left guard Logan Mankins, but didn't connect on such prospects as tight ends Daniel Graham and Benjamin Watson and receivers Chad Jackson and Bethel Johnson. Running back Laurence Maroney has been a contentious pick, too.

New York Jets: General manager Mike Tannenbaum said at the NFL scouting combine Friday the organization isn't placing any extra importance on collecting draft picks, but the Jets need to sow young talent onto their roster. Over the past three years, the Jets have traded away most of their draft picks to move up in the order and select players such as cornerback Darrelle Revis, linebacker David Harris, quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene -- all successes to date. But their ranks have been thinned with only three draft picks last year and 13 since 2007. The Jets have used undrafted free agents and castoffs from other teams to fill out their roster, a philosophy that's difficult to maintain for the long haul. The Jets also are affected by the "final eight" plan that prevents them from signing unrestricted free agents until they lose one. A plump draft class would do the Jets wonders.