|In wake of award, Dolphins' Taylor plans to 'stay hungry'|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 28 August 2007 12:18|
Taylor has mastered those matchups with offensive linemen so well he was chosen NFL defensive player of the year in 2006.
The award raises another, less tangible challenge for Taylor: how to deal with success.
``You just have to stay hungry,'' the Miami Dolphins' No. 99 said. ``I've been around 10 years, and people that have been around know that I'm not that kind of guy who's going to sit back and rest on what he did. I'm happy, but I'm never satisfied.''
Seeking advice on how to duplicate last year's achievements, Taylor said he sought out ``people who've had success in their respective professions.''
He declined to identify them, but said the conversations led him to this conclusion: ``What I did last year doesn't mean anything. The biggest challenge - yeah, I did it once, but I'm going to do it again.''
That sets the bar high. The best thing about the Dolphins' dismal 2006 season was Taylor, who had 13 1/2 sacks, forced 10 fumbles, recovered two, intercepted two passes and returned both for scores.
``Guys that have had success, it's tough,'' Taylor said. ``First of all, you've got everybody shooting for you. If you don't have the same level of success that you had the previous year, people are going to say, 'You're not the same.'''
They won't say that in the Dolphins' locker room, and teammates anticipate no drop-off in Taylor's productivity this year. Defensive tackle Vonnie Holliday smiled when asked if winning the award as the best defensive player made Taylor bigheaded.
``I don't know if his head could get any bigger. Have you seen it?'' Holliday joked. ``Nah, being defensive player of the year is a tremendous achievement, but he hasn't made a big deal out of it. I think he would have traded that for a run at the playoffs.''
A ring remains Taylor's primary source of motivation: He has yet to play in an AFC championship game, much less the Super Bowl.
The Dolphins have failed to even reach the playoffs the past five years, a franchise record. In 2006 they went 6-10, only their third losing season since 1969.
``I hated losing, and everybody knows that,'' said Taylor, a five-time Pro Bowl player. ``But you can't have a chance of winning without having a chance of losing. As long as I can line up and have a chance to go out and win, sometimes you're going to lose, but that doesn't diminish the challenge of the game that I love.''
After last season, Taylor said he contemplated retirement, with frustration about losing a factor. The offseason rejuvenated him.
He turns 33 on Saturday, will be under contract through 2009 and said he might play another three to five years.
``Sure, why not? I can do it. It depends on a lot of things - how healthy you are, the state of your team and whether or not you win a championship.''
The Dolphins aren't a likely title contender in 2007, although they expect to be strong again on defense and better on offense. Teams may focus more than ever on containing Taylor, but he's difficult to neutralize, as new coach Cam Cameron is well aware.
In Cameron's five years as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, they faced Taylor three times.
``You have to account for him every play,'' Cameron said. ``People say, 'We'll run at him.' If you run at him, he's tough for people to stay on because he's so active. You say, 'We'll run away from him.' Then he runs you down from behind. Then you say, 'We'll have to double him,' and you free-up somebody else to make a play.
``It's nice to be on the same sideline.''
An 11th-year veteran, Taylor spent most of his NFL career at end, disproving critics who said he was too small. The past two years, coach Nick Saban used Taylor at both end and linebacker, depending on whether Miami played a 4-3 or 3-4, and he'll continue to do both this season.
``Whatever it is, I just want to be the best at it,'' Taylor said.
He'll line up on the flank or inside, rush the passer or drop into coverage. When he plays linebacker, he's part of a corps that ranks among the game's best, with Zach Thomas, Channing Crowder and newcomer Joey Porter.
Porter brings to Miami a Super Bowl ring he won with Pittsburgh and a reputation for emotional leadership. Last season he returned an interception for a touchdown against the Dolphins, then kissed Steelers coach Bill Cowher.
Taylor can be demonstrative himself, but he's reluctant to emulate Porter's mode of celebrating.
``I don't see how kissing relates to winning,'' Taylor said. ``I kiss my wife and that's fine, but as far as kissing Cam, it isn't going to happen.
``I take that back - if we win a Super Bowl, I'll kiss him.''