Tag:Fred Taylor
Posted on: September 1, 2011 12:31 pm

Taylor never got his due

Now that it is official, and running back Fred Taylor will announce his retirement Friday, I want to make something else official.

Taylor is the most underappreciated player of our generation.

I mean it.

When Taylor was at his best, he was as good as any back who has played the game. He was big. He was strong. He was explosive. He was the prototype for the current NFL style of play before it became chic to be what I call an "air" runner, a guy who operated in space.

Taylor was a home-run threat every time he touched the ball.

Taylor retires as the 15th-best rusher of all time with 11,695 yards. He is 617 yards behind Jim Brown's career total, which is significant because that's the number Taylor always yearned to surpass.

Injuries prevented that. They also helped unfairly tarnish his legacy.

Fragile Fred was a name given to him early in his career as he battled through some injuries. What people failed to realize was how significant some of those injuries were -- and how the team hung him out to take the heat.

Taylor actually ripped the muscle from the bone during in the second game of the 2001 season. The injury was so painful, it looked like he was shot and he actually dropped the football.

But the Jaguars kept saying he'd be back week in and week out -- even though there was no chance.

Fragile Fred was born.

It wasn't fair.

Taylor was an amazing runner. Here's how special: In his career, he averaged at least 4.5 per carry for an entire season eight times.

Of the 14 men ahead of him on the all-time rushing list, only Brown and Detroit's Barry Sanders got to 4.5 per-carry for a season eight times.

Emmitt Smith did it three times. Walter Payton and Marshall Faulk five times. LaDainian Tomlinson four times. Curtis Martin did it just once.

That puts Taylor's explosive ability into perspective.

What hurts Taylor is a lack of touchdowns. He rushed for only 66, which is the lowest of the backs in the top 15. The absurdity is that the Jaguars would take him out on the goal line. Dumb.

Not only was Taylor a great player, he's an even better person. When he walked into the locker room in 1998, he was a kid who barely talked. He was shy. He was cautious.

When he left the Jaguars in 2008, he was a changed man. He was mature. He was confident. He spoke his mind. He was the team's leader.

It was good to see him grow into that right before my eyes.

Taylor was one of my favorite players to deal with on a regular basis, but I also truly appreciate what he was as a football player.

My last assignment covering the Jaguars before coming to CBS Sports.com in November of 2000 was Taylor's Sunday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He set a Three Rivers Stadium record by running for 234 yards and scoring four touchdowns.

It was a special night for a special player.

It's just too bad that not enough people appreciated his talents.  Taylor played in just one Pro Bowl. He also never played in a Super Bowl, losing once in the AFC Title game in 1999 when the Jaguars stopped giving him the ball.

But I want all those who vote for the Hall to look at his tape. Look at the numbers. No offense to Floyd Little, who just got in last year but he averaged over 4.5 once in his career and he is 64th all-time on the rushing list.

Taylor blows those numbers away.

So maybe now Taylor can finally get the appreciation he's so sorely lacked.

Category: NFL
Tags: Fred Taylor
Posted on: February 27, 2009 9:57 am
Edited on: February 27, 2009 10:20 am

Taylor still waiting

Running back Fred Taylor woke up Friday morning and saw a report he had signed with the New England Patriots.

That was news to him.

"That isn't true," Taylor said. "I don't know where some of that ----- comes from sometimes."

Taylor did say he is still in discussions with the Patriots, but no deal was done as of 9:30 a.m.

"We’ll see how it goes," he said.

Taylor also visited with the Buffalo Bills this week, and said there are a couple of other teams in the mix. Taylor was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this month after 11 seasons with the team as they move toward a youth movement.

Taylor has two good years left and would certainly be a good addition to the Patriots offense, a veteran back who can run in their spread sets.

Category: NFL
Tags: Fred Taylor
Posted on: February 18, 2009 9:25 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2009 9:26 pm

Prisco rants



What team is next for running back Fred Taylor? I think there's a handful that would be a good fit. They are the Colts, Cardinals, Saints, Patriots and Broncos. All have established quarterbacks, all have coaches willing to play an up-tempo offense that spreads defenses out and all could use help at the running back position. Taylor told me last season that he wouldn't play for the Colts out of loyalty to his Jaguars teammates if he were to be released. Now that he's free, that's changed. He told me Monday that he would welcome playing with Peyton Manning.

"I can still go 80," Taylor said.

He can. And he will help a team that is looking for a veteran who can still carry it 200 times.

So here's a look at his possible landing spots.

Colts -- The Colts have always respected Taylor as much as any team in the league and they were not thrilled with the way Joseph Addai ran last season. Taylor would run wild in their offense, especially on the delay draws and stretch runs. He would be a nightmare for opposing defenses with his speed, even at the age of 33.

Cardinals -- The one thing that stood out from the Cardinals Super run was a big-play back. Holes would open, and then they would close before Edgerrin James could get through. Taylor would change that. He's got much more pop than does James. The Cardinals could let go of James, get Taylor for cheaper than they would pay James, and get a better back. The one drawback is that Drew Rosenhaus represents both James and Taylor.

Saints -- With Deuce McAllister lreleased and Reggie Bush clearly not a feature back, the Saints could look at Taylor. In their Drew Brees-spread offense, he would have a lot of opportunities against seven-man fronts.

Patriots -- They are not happy with Laurence Maroney and Bill Belichick loves bringing in hard-working veterans. Playing behind a healthy Tom Brady with that passing game outside would give Taylor a lot of chances against spread-out defenses.

Broncos -- New coach Josh McDaniels comes from the Patriots, where he was offensive coordinator of that up-tempo passing offense. He has Jay Cutler to run the offense in Denver, but doesn't have the big-play back to back him up. Taylor could be that guy.


Quick hits

--One day after Taylor was released, the Saints let go of Deuce McAllister, another classy player. McAllister seemed to slow down last season as he returned from a 2007 knee injury. If McAllister doesn't land with a team in 2009, it might give him a chance to start his second career -- as a general manager someday. McAllister loves evaluating talent, and he's damn good at it. If he doesn't play, and I had a chance to add him to my personnel department, I would do it.

---The Chiefs announced their coaching hires this week, but they didn't designate who would coach what. They did hire Clancy Pendergast, and word is he will be their defensive coordinator. The Cardinals fired Pendergast after the Super Bowl because they didn't like the direction that he took the defense. In other words, it wasn't very good. So why did the Chiefs hire him? Why not Jim Haslett, who was interested in the job? The Chiefs were also considering Romeo Crennel as coordinator, but he recently had hip surgery, which may have prevented him from taking the job.

---Safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who is an unrestricted free agent after spending his first four seasons with the Jaguars, might be one of the dumbest players out there when it comes to his latest misstep. Sensabaugh was arrested for driving without a valid license, but he also had three guns in the car. One of those guns was an AK-47. What was he going to do, invade Iraq? Sensabaugh was about to cash in big in the free-agent market. He was the Jaguars' best defensive player over the course of the final six weeks of the season. A long, rangy player, he might have hit the same contract that Gibril Wilson got from the Raiders last year, which included a $12 million signing bonus. "He's probably down to $5 million in bonus money now," said one team's personnel man.  This is Sensabaugh's third run in with the law in the past three years and his second involving weapons. Dumb. It's also interesting to note that he was driving a black Bentley. In his four seasons, he hasn't come close to making enough money to own a Bentley. Maybe he purchased it on the come. Maybe now he should take it back.

---The decision to place the franchise tag on linebacker Karlos Dansby was the right one by the Arizona Cardinals. He's too good a player to risk losing. They are prepared to lose defensive end Antonio Smith when he hits the market. They're ready to play with Calais Campbell, a player they drafted in 2008.

---Are you tired of Julius Peppers yet? He keeps saying he will asked to be traded if the Panthers put the franchise tag on him. Go ahead and ask. It doesn't mean you'll be traded. Peppers needs to realize that he isn't calling the shots. The team does.

---I keep hearing how Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh is going to get a ton of interest from teams when he hits the market. I caution this: T.J. is a No. 2 receiver, so be careful paying him No. 1 money. But somebody will. He's a good receiver, but he has never been the best on the Bengals roster. Can you say Alvin Harper?

---Nobody should be surprised that the Ravens put the franchise tag on defensive end Terrell Suggs, rather than linebacker Ray Lewis. He's younger and he plays a more valuable position. There was one surprise Wednesday, and that wa the Chargers putting the franchise tag on running back Darren Sproles. That's a hefty decision for a backup. Or is this a sign that LaDainian Tomlinson might be getting the Fred Taylor treatment?

Category: NFL
Tags: Fred Taylor
Posted on: October 22, 2008 5:23 pm

Prisco Rants

One thing that is driving me nuts in Jacksonville is the push to get Fred Taylor out of the starting lineup.

The fans want Maurice Jones-Drew in after his impressive 125-yard game against the Denver Broncos. Jones-Drew got most of the carries that day because Taylor left in the first quarter with a mild concussion.

That set off a firestorm in Jacksonville with the fans that want Jones-Drew to start. Taylor would have had a big day in Denver, but his injury prevented it. The Broncos don't stop anybody.

The two have similar numbers, aside from that game. Taylor has 242 yards, while Jones-Drew has 301.

Taylor's best football comes after the first six weeks. Thirty-seven of Taylor's 48 career 100-yad rushing games have come on Oct. 24 or later.

So this is his time.
Before Jaguars fans, and some media members, run Taylor out, they should consider this is the time he gets going.

Quick hits

---Who do you believe? Brett Favre, who said he didn't call the Lions or the report that he did? Didn't we expect Favre to deny it? It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Sharing information with Matt Millen, which Favre said he did, had no chance of helping the Lions. We all know Millen knows nothing about football.

---Only two of Favre's 34 passes went 20 yards in the air last week in the loss to the Raiders. Has he become a dink-and-dunk guy?

---I've seen Aaron Rodgers make some big throws down the field. Just saying.

---The Texans are rotating left tackles, giving rookie Duane Brown, the starter, about 15 plays off a game. What's the point? They say it keeps him fresh to put Ephraim Salaam in the game. I say it's a sign they don't believe in him fully. I hate rotating starters. By the way, I call Salaam "The Turnstile." You know what that means.

--- The decision by Cowboys coach Wade Phillips to take over calling the defenses from coordinator Brian Stewart is two things. It's a desperation move by Phillips, whose job is in jeopardy, and it's an indictment of Stewart, who some personnel people thought was over his head when he got the job two years ago.

---The Chiefs signed quarterback Quinn Gray Wednesday. He will back up Tyler Thigpen. The way Thigpen plays, it will be a game or two before Gray starts. That's a guarantee.

---If the Rams don't give Jim Haslett the permanent coaching job, he might be in demand. Don't be shocked to see Haslett's name linked to other teams, maybe even the 49ers. Haslett's two victories have him moving up the "hot" guy list again. The Rams would be wise to make him the permanent coach.

---During training camp, I did a story on the Tampa Bay offensive line. I said it had the makings of being something special. That's coming true. Losing the hoopla surrounding Jeff Garcia's emergence is how well the offensive line has played. Right guard Davin Joseph, who is back after missing the first three games with a broken foot, is playing at a Pro Bowl level. The signing of center Jeff Faine in free agency has really been a big help to this young group. Those five guys are the reason the Bucs offense is playing better.

Category: NFL
Tags: Fred Taylor
Posted on: September 1, 2008 6:45 pm

Two Jags arrested, two different situations

Two Jacksonville Jaguars players, one former, one current, were arrested over the weekend, but they couldn't be any different in terms of where they are in their lives right now.

Current Jaguars running back Fred Taylor was arrested in Miami outside of a club and charged with a misdemeanor for disturbing the peace. It never looks good to have that type of incident go public, but the reality is it seems like a whole lot of nothing.

Taylor apologized Monday to the team, especially owner Wayne Weaver. But said it was nothing more than him spewing one too many curse words when police were trying to respond to a disturbance at a Miami nightclub.

Taylor is a good guy and a good family man and this shouldn't be held against him. It was a minor thing, so minor that coach Jack Del Rio asked him to speak to the team Monday about his situation.

"It's not me versus the cops," Taylor said Monday.  "I don't want to get into that grudge match, whether right or wrong. ... It's all about authority. Pride gets in the way, then you have two people disagreeing.  "I felt like I was defending myself and I just honestly said one or two curse words that I shouldn't have. It went from one extreme to the next. Unfortunately, it happened. The milk spilt. Can't do a whole lot about it now but keep my head up and keep smiling. I know at the end of the day, I feel I was doing the right thing for myself regardless of whatever happened."

As for the former player, that's another story. Jimmy Smith, the team's all-time leading receiver, was arrested early Saturday morning and charged with DUI after police pulled him over for trying to go around a DUI checkpoint. The police also reportedly found marijuana in Smith's car.

Smith's former teammates are worried about him. Two I've spoken to in the last two months said they don't know the direction Smith is headed in his life. They think he's floundering after football. One said he received a random call from Smith in the middle of the afternoon in which Smith sounded incoherent.

"Guys don't want to be around him," the former teammate said. "It's sad. He's not the same Jimmy Smith. He needs help."

It isn't the first misstep for Smith. The NFL suspended him in 2003 for four games for violating the league's substance-abuse program. That came after Smith tested positive in 2001 for cocaine after a traffic stop. Smith was not charged because of lack of evidence. When he abruptly retired in 2006, there was a lot of speculation that Smith was leaving because he failed a test, a claim he vehemently denied to me when I saw him later that year.

"You know me, Pete," Smith said. "Do you think that's the reason?"

I used to know Smith a little when I covered the Jaguars as a day-to-day beat man. When he came to the Jaguars in 1995 as a street free agent, coming back from a severe appendectomy in his rookie season with the Cowboys in 1992 and getting cut by Rich Kotite in Philadelphia, he was a quiet, unassuming player who worked hard and played hard. He came from a good family and wasn't one to run the streets. But somewhere on the way to stardom, Smith changed.

He became moody. One day, he'd light up the locker room. The next he was surly and curt.

Something wasn't right then. It still isn't.

Jimmy Smith needs help. Here's hoping he can turn his life around and get it back on track.

There's too much of a good guy in there going to waste.



Category: NFL
Tags: Fred Taylor
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