Taylor vs. Del Rio, Where Do You Stand?

It appears that on Sunday the Jacksonville Jaguars may face someone from their past. One of the players who still holds a dear place in many a fan's hearts, and several of the Jaguars offensive records. Running back Fred Taylor may take on the Jaguars defense for the first time since he signed with the New England Patriots after he was released in the off-season.

It's going to be somewhat of a bittersweet game for most Jaguars fans. On one hand, the Jaguars are in the playoff race and fans would love to see them win, but it would also be nice to see Fred Taylor have a productive game to kind of throw it back into the face of the coach he's had seemingly constant battles with during his tenure in Jacksonville.

It always seemed as if Jack Del Rio was always trying to replace Fred Taylor with another back, which only made Taylor better. Initially, it looked like Del Rio wanted to replaced Taylor with current fullback Greg Jones, who was a punishing runner in college and compared to a running back Del Rio had in Baltimore, Jamaal Lewis. When that didn't happen, the Jaguars flirted with the idea of trading for Shaun Alexander when he became available with the Seattle Seahawks, and luckily for the franchise that didn't happen either. Then Maurice Jones-Drew was brought in and they became one of the most feared running back tandems in the entire NFL.

Both Taylor and Del Rio traded barbs a bit during this week's meetings with the media. Taylor insinuated that the preparation in New England was far more advanced than in Jacksonville under Del Rio.

"There's more film study across the board, and not in just one position - every position. I thought we watched a fairly decent amount of film [in Jacksonville]. But I guess I didn't. Here, you're getting quizzed every single day. You have to make sure you know your [stuff] - everybody - nobody's exempt. That's one of the differences.", Taylor said to Michael Wright of the Florida Times-Union on Tuesday.

This comment was met with a retort by Jack Del Rio in his Wednesday press conference.

"He pointed out that the leadership there shows the way," the embattled Jaguars head coach said. "I think he's referring to veteran players. So that's what we're looking to instill in our veteran players. Evidently, he wasn't that veteran leader here having our guys watch the tape. So we're gonna work on getting the veteran leaders that are NOW here to have our guys watching more tape. He provided the blueprint."

By all accounts, the comments by both coach and player were said in a tongue and cheek manner, but let's not kid ourselves. Taylor and Del Rio clashed quite a bit during their time together in Jacksonville. From Del Rio always trying to find his replacement to holding Taylor out of some games in which he could have played to making a stink out of Taylor skipping OTA's in the off-season to train at a facility in South Florida. Not to mention the claim of telling Fred Taylor the team wanted to get younger when he was released in the off-season, despite the fact that Fred Taylor offered to take a reduction in salary. While it looks like the smart move right now since Taylor has been injured most of the season, I think most fans would have liked to see Taylor in teal for one last hurrah.

Both Del Rio and Taylor likely respect each other, but Sunday will be fun to watch. Fred Taylor practiced fully according to the Wednesday injury report and it looks like he may be active on Sunday. How much will Fred Taylor play? That remains to be seen. Maybe Belichick will give Fred Taylor a couple goal line carries, something that he almost never received in Jacksonville, just for fun.


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