Opponent Opinions

Fred Taylor is the only running back in Jacksonville Jaguars to gain 1,000 yards in a season, something he has accomplished five times since joining the team as a first-round pick in 1998. Taylor is having another strong season for Jacksonville, and stopping him on Sunday will be one of the Dolphins' top priorities. Taylor talked to South Florida media this week and here's what he had to say.

Q: Why have the Jaguars been so good at home but struggled so much on the road this season?

Taylor: "If I knew the answer we would probably be winning on the road. I really don't know. That's as strange as anything I've had to deal with in my nine years in the league. But if you want to do anything in the postseason you have to be able to win on the road. I know that for a fact."

Q: What are your thoughts on the Dolphins' defensive line?

Taylor: "That's the strength of their defense. Actually, I think that's the strength of their entire team. They inspire the entire team. They have some veteran guys up there. JT, of course he's a special player and I think it starts with him. Kevin Carter, Keith Traylor and then Vonnie, their starting guys, they've been around for a while. Keith Traylor, what, 15 years? Then you've got Dan Wilkinson there as a backup, 13 years. Jason, like I said, Kevin, 12 years. So they have a lot of veterans. Not only that, they have a leader like Zach Thomas, who's fiery, brings so much energy in his play. And then the two younger linebackers, Channing, he's a maniac out there, of course. So they have a great defense, but it starts up front and I think that trickles down through the entire team. Of late they've been playing with great energy and they've been playing fast, sort of like the way the Steelers used to play prior to their slump this year. But they're playing outstanding football right now."

Q: How much of a help has it been for you to now have a quality backup like rookie Maurice Jones-Drew?

Taylor: "Well, Maurice is a very special athlete. He runs hard. At any given time I have the confidence knowing that if I'm tired I can come out on the sideline, take a couple plays off and the offense not lose a beat. So having that confidence, knowing that this guy, he can make plays, we don't have a fall off. I get to go as hard as I can when I'm out there and not save anything. So Maurice, he's been a great compliment to myself. A lot of people used to knock his height but I think that's his advantage being that all the linemen are 6-3 to 6-6 or whatever and he's a shorter guy. It's kind of hard to locate him when he does get the ball. And when you locate him, finally, he has these big, massive thighs and he's strong in his lower body that he can run you over and even break some of your tackles. So it's benefited me a whole lot late here in my career. I think it's a blessing in my disguise that I have it."

Q: Has rotating backs helped keep you healthier this season?

Taylor: "I don't think that has anything to do with Maurice. I think God is in control of all of that, first and foremost. I'm an NFL running back, things happen. It takes one play. But I'm definitely thankful that we're out there sharing the ball, sharing the load of our touches. But I guess when it comes down to health, neither one of us has control of it."

Q: Is there a quarterback controversy in Jacksonville?

Taylor: "Well, people have talked about it and they try to bring it up. But one of our guys had to have surgery, so I mean, where does the controversy come from? Byron (Leftwich), he was trying his best. He's a warrior. He wants to play, but Coach (Jack Del Rio) had to make a tough decision and not let that injury hurt the team. And at that point in time, David was the healthier guy. He's the guy that helped us win last year. He's been a winner his entire career, he just lacked the opportunity. And now he's gotten the opportunity and we have the utmost confidence in him and that's our guy. We'll have to rally behind David. If there's a controversy, if anything it will be next year when both guys are healthy and they're competing. But other than that, there's no controversy."

Q: Do you think the effect the home crowd can have is overrated?

Taylor: "I don't think it's overrated at all. Momentum is really something that, it's real. Momentum is definitely real. For example, (Buffalo's) Roscoe Parrish last week. Their crowd was silent until he returned that punt. And then after that they just got into the game and then your team feeds of off that. Imagine playing a game in an empty stadium. That wouldn't be as fun as having a crowd behind you when something good happens. So I believe in the 12th man."

Q: How can you re-create that when you're playing on the road?

Taylor: "It's tough. You have to play amongst each other. We go out there, when we travel we like to say us against the world, 53 against 80,000 or whatever. You try and bring energy amongst yourselves. Me, as a running back, I try and do something on the field that's going to excite my team, my defense, my entire team. And sometimes it doesn't quite equate to 70,000-plus or whatever. So it's kind of hard, but you try. You try your best at it but I don't think it compares."

Q: How would you compare your two quarterbacks, Leftwich and David Garrard?

Taylor: "Byron's a guy who's mobile. He'll stand in there and take the necessary punishment, he's a tough guy, to get the ball out to the receivers. And he makes explosive in the pass game. Whereas David, defenses really have to account to that added element of him being a scrambling, a mobile quarterback. He can create a little more, he can buy a little bit more time for receivers, if they're not open, to allow them to get open. And then in the run game, that backside defender, or the chase defender is what we call it in football, he has to be very disciplined, very honest in his technique. David, he's a guy that opens up certain things whereas Byron, he's a guy you have to make sure the receiver's open and he stands in there and he delivers the ball."


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