Fred Taylor's retirement yesterday let's us ponder how important he really was to the Jaguars as a franchise. Unlike the Shack Harris years, Fred Taylor was a top 10 first rounder, and immediately proved his worth with a 1,200 yard season his rookie year. The most astounding stat I've heard to date: in the company of only Barry Sanders and Jim Brown, Fred Taylor is one of only 3 backs to ever average a 4.5 yard per carry average for an 8 season span, a truly mind-liquifying stat. Hall of Fame worthy?
I still to this day have not seen the combination of power and speed that Taylor possessed. The fact he could run with speeds of a 4.3 40 yard dash and then lower his shoulder and barrel you to the ground is hard to imagine unless you saw it in person. Fred Taylor gave the Jaguars the identity they have used since he was drafted: a smash-mouth, run first team, with a truly smash-mouth running back. Is that any different today with Maurice Jones-Drew? Taylor mentored him well. That same mentality is still true today. To be able to have a game-breaking running back at your disposal to unleash anytime will always put fear in the defense. As Brian Sexton said at Taylor's retirement press conference, "You only need one word to describe what Fred Taylor did for the Jaguars and their fans-breathless."