raising the bar

(photo by Brian Murphy)

There’s an interesting article on ESPN.com this morning by someone named Tim Graham, in which some light is shined on the release of Jason Taylor from the Washington Redskins earlier this month.

Here’s the pertinent portion of Graham’s article:

The Redskins released him on March 2 amid reports he wasn’t interested in committing to the offseason program. Taylor refuted such accounts, claiming he and Redskins owner Dan Snyder hashed out his release.

“We sat down here in Miami and I told him point blank I didn’t want to steal from him,” Taylor said. “I didn’t want to go up there and take the eight-and-a-half-million dollars and not be productive. It wasn’t fair.

“I took a lot of heat last year for the lack of productivity, and the injuries and whatnot, but after you play in a certain system and a certain situation for 11 years and make the Pro Bowl six times, then they tell you now play the other side, it doesn’t always work that way. We couldn’t find that mix last year.”

Taylor, who will turn 35 in September, was coy about his future plans. He was definitive that he will play somewhere, but claimed he had no timetable to make a decision. He also stated “it’s not about the money. I walked away from the money in D.C.”

This solidifies the conventional wisdom that no one at Redskins Park truly cared whether or not Taylor participated in the team’s offseason workout program. It was simply used as a convenient excuse to help show the former NFL defensive player of the year the door after one failed year in town.

The part that will continue to drive us nuts is when Taylor says, “After you play in a certain system and a certain situation for 11 years and make the Pro Bowl six times, then they tell you now play the other side, it doesn’t always work that way.”  As we’ve said all along, we don’t blame Taylor for his failure to live up to expectations last season. Sure, he was arrogant and phony behind the scenes, but through no fault of his own he was a square peg in a round hole the moment he arrived.

It reminds us of our conversation with Redskins running back Ladell Betts from last week when we asked him about whether or not he thought the ‘Skins should make a play for Denver quarterback Jay Cutler.

“Nah, I don’t think so,” Betts said. “Guys are good in certain systems … I’m not saying Cutler is a system quarterback, but you can’t just assume that someone is just going to go somewhere else and automatically put up numbers and be better than somebody else. I mean, that’s an unknown situation. There’s no way anybody can say that with certainty. I think we’re just fine with Jason as our quarterback.”

Taylor knows it. Betts knows it. But sadly, the Redskins front office doesn’t know it. Just because a guy is good in one system, doesn’t guarantee he’ll flourish in your system – especially if you’re doing things drastically different from his previous experience. It has been reported that the front office talked with defensive coordinator Greg Blache prior to acquiring Taylor from Miami and that Blache voted against making the move. Our best guess is he knew Taylor was a bad fit and said so, but for reasons unknown management made it happen anyway.

Should the Redskins ever get to a point where they return to the days of glory, these are the self-inflicted issues they’re going to have to grow out of.

If you want to bring in a Jason Taylor, you either need to adapt your defense to suit the player, thereby ensuring you maximize that player’s potential in your system or you make them adjust to fit what you’re trying to do. For the record, option two is much easier said than done when we’re talking about 34-year-old veterans who are already thinking of life after football.

We know it sounds like common sense and that we might even be entering “beating a dead horse” territory here, but this is a problem that absolutely needs to be corrected if the Redskins ever plan on being anything more than a .500 team.

1 comment

  1. Om
    March 31, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I agree with the overall sentiment insofar as how the Redskins handled bringing Taylor here (the idea that they did it over Blache’s objection boggles the mind), but I have to admit it that Taylor’s comments about “stealing money” strain credulity.

    Maybe he really is the one in a million guy who would voluntarily walk away from $8.5 million dollars simply because he felt guilty about not producing at that level … but frankly, buying that explanation kinda strikes me as falling-off-the-turnip-truck-last-night stuff.

    As with most things, I suspect there’s more to the story.

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