Browns Defense: Taylor and Rubin – Either, Neither or Both?
By Joe Zevchek
While the subject isn’t exactly new, the conversation of whether the Cleveland Browns should keep defensive tackles Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin is a big topic in the upcoming free agency period. After hearing one local radio host state his opinion that the team should move on from both, an article posted yesterday on NFL.com predicted that Taylor was a “strong candidate for release.” Due to the strong upcoming draft and free agency class at the position, I’ve already felt that Rubin has likely played his last down as a Brown. However, I never really felt that Taylor was at any risk of getting cut.
Taylor played only 5 games in 2014, and hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year in 2011 (which surprised me), when he registered 37 total tackles and 4 sacks. In 2012 he played only half of the season, and then 15 games in 2013. Since his rookie year, Taylor hasn’t even averaged 2 tackles per game when he has played. Taylor surely has the ability to be a disruptive presence-most fans can remember clearly how his return for the Thursday night game against Cincinnati this past season gave the run defense a huge boost after it had leaked like a sieve in the previous weeks. However, Taylor’s problems staying healthy need to be taken into account. The injuries aren’t just keeping him off of the field, they’re likely reducing his effectiveness when he does play.
Rubin, meanwhile, played 13 games this past season. He played in that many in 2012, and only played less in his 2008 rookie year (11). Rubin has not only consistently been healthier than Taylor, but has had better stats.
Rubin-56 games, 125 tackles, 10 sacks
Taylor-44 games, 69 tackles, 7 sacks
The thought amongst many has been that any DT/NT that the Browns selected, whether in the draft or via free agency, would primarily be a replacement for Rubin. Perhaps, however, Taylor should be the player that the Browns move on from. I’ve always liked Taylor’s physical play and attitude, but it simply hasn’t served him particularly well to this point, especially compared to Rubin’s discipline and steady, albeit quiet, production.
Did Rubin regress some this year? Yes, although the injuries could be cited as a reason. However, if the Browns don’t have a plan to add 2 interior linemen this year, they may want to seek to re-sign Rubin and cut Taylor instead of letting Rubin walk.
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If the Browns do decide to, and are successful in resigning Rubin, keeping Taylor would probably still be the best option. There are other players lower on the depth chart that could be candidates for release or free agency, and the team would either have the ability to work a rookie in slowly or have an insurance policy in the event of injury.
So what do you think about the Browns defense? Should they keep either, neither or both Taylor and Rubin?
- Side note on the new logo: Yawn.We were all ready for a new logo outside of the helmet-instead we got a new, slightly modified helmet. I wasn’t really looking forward to anything drastic anyways. The new shade of orange is ok and I like the brown facemask, but the whole thing is underwhelming considering the hype that the team put into it. From a PR perspective, the team would have been much better served to have unveiled all of this with the new uniforms.