Taylor is hearing The Whispers

The scuttlebutt has already begun. Whether you turn the dial to listen to sports talk radio, talk to your best friend about the game or frequent this here web site; you will hear everyone clamoring for the same thing. Travis Taylor isn't pulling his weight and he needs to step it up.

So far, who can argue with the sentiment? In just two preseason games, where Taylor has basically played a total of one full game against the Lions' and Jets' first team defenses, he's mustered just two catches for 21 yards. In his only other attempt to catch a pass thrown right at him to convert an important third down against the Jets, Taylor bobbled the pass before darting out of bounds. No.1 receivers cannot bobble that pass, no matter how off the pass may be. If it's in your hands, you have to make the catch.

But, as disappointing as that play was for Taylor, it's just a microcosm of how his career has been thus far. When he needs to step up and be the man, he hasn't delivered. Some of that has to do with his inability to hold onto the ball consistently, run his routes smoothly and get separation from the defense. A lot of that also has to do with the Ravens' failure to get him into the offense at all and to let him play to his strengths. Thus far, they have failed to do so once again.

As surprising as it may sound, Taylor is the ideal fit for the West Coast offense. At Florida, his former coach, Steve Spurrier, preached Taylor to gain yards after the catch. He had to catch a five-yard out pass and turn it into a fifteen-yard gain. He ran reverses, wide receiver screens and curl routes to fruition. Though Spurrier ran a more run and shoot offense than a West Coast base, the philosophy of permitting the receiver to break tackles and make plays on his own is the same.

And for the Ravens, they should make Taylor the focus of their offense. Let him move around. Play him at the X position, the Y and the slot. Let him be the motion man. Allow Taylor to catch a pitch pass out of the backfield. Instead of allowing Stokley to catch a screen pass in the flat, make Taylor the go to guy in that situation. Simply put: the Ravens must get the ball in Taylor's hands.

That doesn't mean that he will necessarily succeed either. The onus is still on Travis Taylor, the former No. 10 pick out of the 2000 draft, to produce when given the chance. If he doesn't have a breakout season that at least produces a 1,000 yards receiving, well, there is no guarantee that he will get the chance to start next year, let alone have a job.

Bearing down on Taylor is fourth round pick Ron Johnson from Minnesota, who has been the Ravens' leading receiver with nine catches for 99 yards and one touchdown. But, he has yet to consistently produce against any DBs that aren't slated to be the backups on their respective teams. That said, Johnson has already shown enough flashes that he can play. He's got great hands, is okay with taking a hit over the middle once he makes the catch and has the size to become a weapon in the red zone.

Johnson has all the potential to be the perfect possession receiver in Brian Billick's pass offense. If he keeps flourishing throughout the season, there is little doubt that Johnson will get the opportunity to start next season.

Meanwhile, the current No.2 receiver, Brandon Stokley, has become Chris Redman's go to guy in just two preseason games. He has a breakout game yesterday, snagging five catches for 45 yards. Stokley has instantly developed a rapport with Chris Redman on the field and off. However, Stokley is due to become a free agent at the end of the year, so there is no assurance that he will be re-signed before March 1.

Yes, it's only been two preseason games. And no, the Ravens shouldn't even think about benching Taylor until he fully proves that he is not starter material. That could take the whole season to prove or half the season. Either way, the coaching staff and organization needs to stay patient with him, as they also need to stay patient with Redman, Baxter and many others. This is a developmental season.

But the fans won't let up, that's a given. So for all of those fans that are reading this, you can take this mantra to heart. Travis Taylor, you need to "Show Me Something".


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