We're getting ready to close out another decade in a few weeks and Sports Illustrated is celebrating the passing of 10 years with its latest all-decade team.
Aside from giving copious attention to the New England Patriots for their great quarterback play (Tom Brady), great personnel work (Scott Pioli), great coaching (Bill Belichick), great success (three Super Bowl wins) and great cheating scandal (Spygate), SI does make time for one quick wink to Miami's Dolphins.
Taylor earns the right defensive end spot on the all-decade team.
Taylor missed only five games in the decade and averaged 11 sacks a year during the past 10 seasons from 2000-2009. And that is good stuff for anyone wondering whether Taylor eventually will be in the conversation for Hall of Fame status when he hangs them up.
But ... yeah, there's always a but, the occasion of celebrating Taylor on this dream team causes me to wonder what's happening with Taylor on a real-life team: The 2009 Miami Dolphins.
This season was seemingly going great for Taylor from the time he signed this offseason through the preseason and the regular season. Then something strange happened the past few weeks.
JT kinda disappeared.
Taylor, signed to primarily rush the passer, has been spending a lot of his time the past couple of weeks watching from the bench when the Dolphins are in obvious pass-rushing situations. Orginally, the plan was to let Taylor watch on run downs and then unleash him -- fresh, motivated, and maybe a little angry -- on passing downs.
Great idea because, well, the dude can rush the passer.
But now he's a run-stopper. A run-stopper?
Taylor plays primarily on run downs and then cedes his pass-rushing duties to Cameron Wake or Charlie Anderson or Joey Porter. The guy with more sacks this decade than anyone else is on the sideline for Miami in passing downs.
I'm not sure how the Dolphins reached this point in their outside linebacker rotation. Taylor did not figure in a sack for a month from Oct. 25 to Nov. 29. But I cannot tell you whether his removal on passing down is because he slowed down during that month or because he wasn't given enough at-bats to get to the QB.
I can tell you the coaching staff is intent on giving Cameron Wake more opportunities to rush the passer. The team also seems reluctant to remove Porter from his pass-rush duties. He has been getting more chances than Taylor.
But the idea of using Taylor, Porter and Wake together on rush situation seems to have been tossed somehwere along the way. And for now, more often than not, that makes Taylor the odd man out in pass-rush situations.
Maybe Dolphins coaches should read Sports Illustrated.