There was a lot of talk this season about how some believed that Jason Taylor lost a step. It's hard to argue that he didn't have the same kind of year that he had in 2006, which was a career year. But his 2007 season wasn't as bad as some would like to believe.
So using the Impact Plays Index that can be explained right here, let's see how much of a drop-off there was for JT between 2006 and 2007. But also keep in mind that the IPI is just an overview of one's overall impact on a defense. It's hard to quantify the total impact a defender has on his defense.
As you can see, there was a drop off. But it's not really that big of a drop off. A lot of the drop off stems from the fact that Taylor wasn't used the same way. He dropped into coverage fewer times, reducing the impact he could make in coverage (i.e. passes defensed). And when you consider how much of a monster year he had in 2006, you see that 2007 was still a very good to near great season in itself. And to prove that, let's look at the IPIs for some of the other top DEs in the NFL in 2007:
|Kyle Vanden Bosch||60||12||0||0||3||4||0||4||1||74|
As you can see here, only Jared Allen had a better season as a DE than Jason Taylor. Taylor even out-played Patrick Kerney, who tied for 2nd in yesterday's Defensive Player of the Year voting. How's that for slowing down?
Now, a lot of times, people might think my scoring system for the IPI is "off" a bit, though I'd argue it's as fair as can be to judge a player's impact. Either way, here's another way to measure impact. You simply eliminate the "tackles" from the comparison because tacles are really a "light" statistic. What I mean by thay is a tackle isn't necessarily an impact play. If it's made 20 yards down the field, why should it be weighted the same as a stop 1 yard past the LOS? So we eliminate tackles and then get rid of the scoring system for the IPI. What you are left with now is total impact plays. Below are the same 11 players as above, ranked in terms of impact plays per game:
|Kyle Vanden Bosch||1.5|
As you can see, Jason Taylor made more impact plays in every game he played in this year than those of every other defensive end, with the lone exception being Jared Allen. But before we go and praise Allen and talk about his IP/G of 2.75, that figure is still lower than both Taylor's last year as well as Shawne Merriman. Taylor had a 2.94 and Merriman had a 2.83.
As for Taylor, he made about 1 fewer impact play per game. But a lot of that could have to do with the players around him. All I know is that this talk that Taylor has slowed down isn't really the case. Instead, he's basically come back down to earth a bit in relation to his unbelievable 2006 season in which he won the Defensive Player of the Year award. He's still ome of the top 3 defensive ends in the game.
Many think it would be best to trade the all-pro this offseason. But I would argue that the only way I trade him is if we get a first round pick in return. He's far more valuable to this team as a player and as a leader than a 2nd round pick is. So if Taylor wants to remain in Miami, and that's a big if, I hope he does. He may be 34 by the time the 2008 season rolls around, but he still has plenty of gas left in that tank.