While Jets fans are readying their list of verbal attacks to begin hurling at Jason Taylor the moment he walks on the field Monday night at MetLife Stadium, his former teammates were trying to sound upbeat about a player who didn’t necessarily create warm and fuzzy feelings in the locker room.
Taylor was signed by the Jets last spring, a hired gun who was supposed to be bring a pass rush and some veteran leadership. Instead, Taylor posted the second-lowest tackle and sack total of his career while winning few friends. Most troubling for the Jets, the former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant played softer than a ballerina. Taylor returned to Miami this August, where he spent 13 of his previous 15 years.
“A real professional about the way he went about his business, about the way he interacted with other players on the team. He was respectful with the trainers and equipment staff. He was the ultimate pro. We loved having him, and it’s going to be fun to face him,” quarterback Mark Sanchez said. “We’ll be excited to see him before the game and then during the game we have to get after him, we have to block him. Then after the game just say, ‘Good luck and stay healthy,’ but hopefully we win this one.”
The reality of the situation was that Taylor was a bit of a loner who never seemed invested in the team and backed up his detached demeanor with subpar play on the field – play that that was demeaning considering his base salary of $1.75 million last year. Always known as a bit of a “Jets killer,” Taylor infamously was carried over to the sidelines of an open practice at MetLife Stadium last summer by nose tackle Kris Jenkins to force him to interact with the fans.
Now, after the second year of his contract was not picked up by the Jets, Taylor makes his first return trip to New York. Once again, he’s in that Dolphins jersey Jets fans hate so much.
“I’m sure I’ll be booed. I’m sure I’ll be booed. I was booed for a lot of years in that stadium or in that town,” Taylor said. “I tried to do my best to make them cheer last year but being back on the other side of the coin now I’m sure I’ll get my fair share of boos which is to be expected. They’re Jet fans and they should be and they’re very passionate about their team and that’s the way, the way it’s supposed to be.”
The Jets didn’t want him back after posting 36 tackles and five sacks last year. It was in part due to his less than stellar play, but also due to his standoffish attitude with his teammates. Clearly, Taylor was a hired gun who, despite his negatives, the Jets insist they would have welcomed back to the team.
“I’ll say this. We would’ve loved to have had Jason back,” head coach Rex Ryan said.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Taylor isn’t back in New York and rather glissaded his way to Miami. The linebacker has just three tackles and one sack through four games. At this rate, it would be a career low in tackles for the future Hall of Famer.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.