Phil Taylor might be the most underrated addition to Washington’s revamped defense

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 25: Phillip Taylor
PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 25: Phillip Taylor /

Phil Taylor appears to have found his footing with the Washington Redskins. Signed to a future/reserve contract last year just after the conclusion of the regular season, Taylor is now emerging as the starting nose tackle.

One bright spot for the Redskins this preseason has been nose tackle Phil Taylor. My fellow Riggo’s Rag writer Ian Cummings wrote about Taylor being one of the more under-the-radar signings earlier this offseason. The former first-round round pick has looked solid throughout training camp and had dominant outings in consecutive weeks of the preseason versus Baltimore and Green Bay.

It has been quite the journey for the former Baylor standout. Drafted No. 21 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2011, Taylor started all 16 games that season posting 59 tackles and four sacks. A pectoral injury limited him to eight games in 2012. Taylor started 15 games the next season, missing the season finale because of a concussion. In 2014, Taylor played in only five games because of a knee injury.

Taylor had a brief stint with the Denver Broncos in 2016, but he was released because knee issues. Now finally healthy, it appears that Washington’s defense will reap the rewards this fall after signing him to a futures contract back in January. Taylor has shown the ability to pressure the passer in addition to being stout in the run-game.

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At 6-foot-3, 343 pounds Taylor has the size and athleticism to play nose tackle. The Redskins are instantly improved right in the heart of the defense.

Zach Brown and Mason Foster accounted for 273 tackles in 2016. With Foster at the “Mike,” the Redskins have a thumper at ILB that can also be the play-caller on defense. Brown gives the Redskins a true sideline-to-sideline presence after signing a free agent deal this offseason. This is something the defense has lacked since the days of London Fletcher.

With Taylor commanding double-teams, linebackers are kept clean, and other defensive linemen become beneficiaries. Once a glaring weakness, Washington’s defensive line looks much improved. One major reason why is defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. He’s been an excellent addition to the coaching staff.

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Any effective 3-4 defense starts with a two-gap plugger in the middle, something the Redskins lacked a season ago. The defense seems to have found that presence in Taylor. Although he hasn’t made the final 53-man roster yet, he’s a major upgrade at the position. If the Redskins are improved defensively in 2017, Phil Taylor would be a big reason why.