Jets fans, you don't want Jason Taylor, do you?
No, I didn't think so. And it's an understandable reaction. After all, this is a guy who not only has played for the Dolphins but who, at various turns over the past few years, has mocked your chants, denigrated Fireman Ed and been quoted as saying that "some Jets fans take the c-l out of 'class.'" He's made it clear at every turn that he has no use for the Jets or New York or any of us, and so sure, it's easy to see why his visit to the Jets this week isn't giving Gang Green fans the warmest or fuzziest of feelings.
But I submit to you, Jets fans, that this is not a time in your franchise's history for holding old grudges or getting bogged down in what's come before. The people running the Jets have made it clear that their mission is to get rid of the old labels and clichés that have come to define the Jets and Jets fandom, and the first year under Rex Ryan was a refreshing example that it's as possible as they say it is.
So while the fan in you would love to call the Jets' offices and scream at them to send Taylor and his dancing (with the stars) shoes back to Miami on the next Spirit Airlines flight out of town, the better course of action is to take a deep breath, remember what year it is and trust Ryan that he knows what he's doing.
Taylor is certainly not what he once was as a football player. He's 35 years old and can do very little right now on the field other than take a straight and fierce line to the quarterback and knock him down. If you need him for more than that, he's a bad signing.
But it just so happens that the Jets need him for nothing more than that. Ryan has determined that the glaring weakness on his defense remains an edge pass rusher who can get to a quarterback without Ryan having to call a blitz on every single play. Teaming Antonio Cromartie with Darrelle Revis in the secondary will allow Ryan to blitz as much as he wants to because he can be sure the receivers are covered. Adding somebody whose only job is to pass-rush would help Ryan construct his blitzes. It would at least put the possibility of a pass rush in an opponent's head on the rare occasions when he'd rather not bring a safety or a linebacker or a corner on a blitz.
We only have the one year to go on so far, but if there's anybody out there who still doubts that Ryan knows what he's doing on defense, they weren't watching very closely this year. This is a team that lost its Pro Bowl nose tackle in the first half of the season and still led the league in total defense by an average of 30 yards per game. That's good coaching. And if Ryan thinks Taylor is what he needs to make the defense function at its best in 2010, the fans need to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Nobody's asking you to invite Jason Taylor to dinner. Nobody's asking you to shake his hand. But if he really is what the Jets want -- and if he's not just in town to scare the Dolphins into giving him another year -- then Jets fans should trust in the new, motivated, competent team management and welcome a move the management thinks will make the team better.