Jason Taylor does “bemused” well. And you’d have to forgive the venerable linebacker a bemused smile or two when the questions came at him immediately after the Jets’ game against Washington on Friday night.
“This won’t be my first rodeo,” Taylor said with a smile.
The questions were regarding the state of the Jets without OLB Calvin Pace for a few weeks. Pace injured his foot against the Redskins and will miss “a few weeks,” said Rex Ryan. The head coach is expected to provide an update on Pace’s situation on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.
But if the prognosis remains the same, the upshot is that Taylor, whom many saw as a situational — read: pass-rushing — addition when the Jets signed him as an unrestricted free agent, may well be an NFL opening-day starter for the 12th consecutive season and the 13th in his 14 seasons as a pro.
“You want to play. Obviously, it’s very unfortunate that something happened to Calvin,” Taylor said. “It’s my job to step up and help. Do I think i can do it? Yeah, that’s what I do.”
That’s what he did last season, when he returned from the ‘Skins to the Dolphins and started at the strong OLB spot for Matt Roth, who missed the first half of the season with a groin injury.
“From the beginning of training camp, I started at a spot I never played before. That’s a lot more new than what we’re doing now.”
Taylor said he’s more at ease now in the Jets’ scheme than he’s been since he got here, which you would expect.
“There’s a couple of plays, a couple of calls where you’ve got to stop and think real quick or check with BT or Calvin on what we have,” he said. “But it’s probably down to one or two calls I do that with.
“So yeah, I feel good. I’m feeling comfortable and confident mentally, and the physical will always fall on the mental.”
Will there be a dropoff for the Jets if Pace misses much time? Could be, especially because Pace told my partner Eric Allen the other day that he’s fired up and focused on 10-plus sacks this season. But Taylor looks plenty good so far as well. JT knows starts — he’s got 192 in 13 previous NFL regular seasons — and he knows sacks — he’s got 127.5, most among active players.
And let’s not forget Jamaal Westerman, whose time it may be to take on an increased workload, the workload, in fact, that Taylor was going to get in the base rotation with Pace and Bryan Thomas and in the sub front line.
Taylor even showed the old-pro part of his mental game when asked about what the Jets need to do team-wise to be ready for their Sept. 13 season opener against the Ravens. He didn’t shy away from making some observations on the offense, but he knows his unit and the team are most important.
“We need to take care of the ball better as a team, No. 1 — you can’t win in this league turning the ball over. It’s darn near impossible,” he said. “We need to play a little better defense in certain situations, not giving up third downs. I think the first group did a pretty good job at times, but they still got some first downs and a couple passes against us. And I think offensively, we want to put more points on the board. They’re working on that. But we need to mow our own grass on the defensive side and get ourselves ready to go.”
No mowing necessary at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Blake Hoerr and his grounds crew do a great job of that. And none required on the New Meadowlands Stadium FieldTurf. But for a short while, Taylor will be in the starting lineup as the defense plans to cut down opposing offenses without Calvin Pace.
Update, 2:45 p.m.: Rex Ryan on his just concluded conference call with reporters said Pace suffered what he believed was a broken bone in Pace’s foot and will need surgery. He said Pace is in North Carolina now to have a specialist “take care of it.” Rex: “We’ll know more about the extent of the injury obviously after the surgery. We’re feeling good that it could be a speedy recovery but anytime you have surgery, we don’t have the specifics. But he’s definitely going to miss the first game, I think that’s pretty safe to say.”
Tags: Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, Jamaal Westerman, Jason Taylor
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