Welcome back Niner Faithful, a new season is upon us! I’ve watched Thursday night’s game about four times now, once as a fan, then three times for film review purposes. One thing that was blatantly obvious within the first few minutes of the game was the play of Jullian Taylor.
Taylor is a seventh round rookie out of Temple University, and he flew mostly under the radar due to having an injury plagued college career. He only played one game as a freshman, no games his sophomore season, two games as a junior, and then finally had what you can call a “breakout” season his senior year. He played 12 games, logging 30 solo tackles, 11 of which were tackles for loss. He ended his college career with 53 total tackles, according to Sports-Reference.com.
Usually lower leg injuries spell the end of any lineman’s career. Most come back but they’re never the same. Add in that we’re still recovering from Trent Baalke’s ACL all-star teams from the last few drafts. This causes any mentions related to ACL’s to be scoffed at. Taylor had two knee injuries at Temple which led his draft stock to fall despite his very competitive measurables.
What we’re going to look at today appears to be the same clip over and over again, but that’s just how dominant Taylor actually was Thursday night. The phrase that comes to mind is “relentless violence.”
In our first clip we get a peek at Taylor’s role in the defense and a snapshot of his talent. Replacing Arik Armstead as the “Big End,” his job in run support is to set the edge. He does a good job on this clip first of all manhandling the offensive tackle. I would’ve liked him to stay outside the tackle, but his penetration caused the RB to have to move east and west versus north and south, and that’s always a good thing in run defense.
In this next clip we have the same play basically, but this time he is on the inside playing defensive tackle instead of defensive end. The Cowboys are trying to pull some lineman around, but Taylor pushes them into each other causing one of them to fall. Bo Scarborough, the Dallas running back, has to stop his feet to not trip over the roadkill. Eventually he’s brought down for a loss.
The next few clips may not be suitable for children under 13. You’re about to watch 6’3 320 pound offensive lineman, Marcus Martin, get assaulted by a seventh round rookie. Martin never stood a chance. One thing with Taylor, while he may not get “home,” he often caused just enough pressure to affect the quarterback’s ability to step into his throws. On this play the wide receiver is open but the QB cannot step into the throw which causes a short ball and the corner back recovers. (Clip ends before the catch)
Same thing with this clip. It would appear to be the same play just to the other side as the clip above. This time however the offensive tackle, Chaz Green, slides out to block Taylor, but the result is the same. Another thing on this clip that’s subtle is Taylor’s shoulder dip right at the snap. He dips under the attempted chip by the tight end, then engages Green. Cowboy’s quarterback Cooper Rush can’t step into his throw and it sails far out of bounds.
To end, we have the rookie getting his first sack. Not sure if the line stunt was called, or simply happened by instinct. Taylor and Pita Taumoepenu line up at the top of the screen. Taylor is back at defensive tackle. “Pita T” rushes hard inside the tackle and engages the guard. When this happens Taylor loops around and gets the sack on the quarterback.
Honestly, almost every play I watched from Taylor had him dominating these linemen. he played 32 defensive snaps, and I’m pretty sure he was pushing guards and tackles around like this on 90 percent of them. Where he still needs work is disengaging larger linemen and ensuring he’s not overrunning gaps and containment. He faced Pro Bowl tackle Tyron Smith, a few times and was pretty much stone walled.
In watching him push these other guys around however, one comparison comes to mind, the Cowboy, Justin Smith. Now obviously Taylor has a long way to go before he gets on that level, but his debut surely has him on that path. Let’s just watch Justin Smith tackle a guard and a quarterback for old’s time sake.(Sorry for the poor clip but it was the only clip that wasn’t blocked by the NFL). Go Niners!