Pelzman: Two veteran pickups look golden
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
When the Jetsí win over Miami on Sunday night had been assured, coach Rex Ryan helped pour a water bucket over the head of former Dolphins linebacker Jason Taylor.
He also could have targeted general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
Though the returns have been either mixed or incomplete concerning some of the big-name players the Jets have acquired through trades in the past year (Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes), the early returns on the signings of two likely future Hall of Famers have been very good.
With two sacks in three games, Taylor has shown he hasnít lost his ability to get around the edge and bedevil quarterbacks. Thrust into an unexpected starting role because of the injury to linebacker Calvin Pace, Taylor even trapped Baltimoreís Ray Rice for two losses on rushing plays in the opener. And running back LaDainian Tomlinson has been even more impressive, ranking 10th in the AFC with 208 rushing yards despite averaging only 12.3 carries per game.
The Jetsí hierarchy could be forgiven for pounding their collective chests on these signings, as hardly anyone else wanted those two players. Taylor was signed as an unrestricted free agent after Miami had chosen not to give him a new contract. Taylor has made it clear his first preference was to play for the Dolphins, but they simply didnít want him anymore.
After the worst season of his mostly brilliant career, Tomlinson was released by San Diego in February, and signed by the Jets in March shortly after he visited their Florham Park complex. The only other NFL team that even expressed interest in LT was Minnesota, which had him in for a visit before the Jets did.
Unlike some of the players the Jets have acquired recently, character is not an issue with these two, both of whom have won the NFL Man of the Year award for charitable contributions. The only question was: Could they still play at a high level for a team with Super Bowl aspirations?
So far, so good.
What Ryan said about Taylor on Monday could apply to both him and Tomlinson.
"The way heís come here into our building, been around his teammates here and living in the community, I mean, wow," Ryan said. "Weíre so fortunate to have him. He came in with an unbelievable attitude. [He was] humble and just wanted to be one of the guys. Heís way more than just one of the guys. What a tremendous pickup that was for us."