K.J. Wright: What’s behind Seahawks edge Darrell Taylor’s sack surge

Jan 4, 2023, 1:29 PM
Seahawks Darrell Taylor...
Darrell Taylor reacts after a play against the the New York Jets on Jan. 1, 2023. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Third-year Seahawks edge rusher Darrell Taylor was among the players whose performance this season was being questioned while Seattle struggled through five losses in six games, but the tune is changing about him.

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Taylor, a 2020 second-round pick by the Seahawks who missed all of his rookie year due to injury, has registered 3.5 sacks in the last two weeks, and he also has 5.5 sacks over the last five games. As a result, he now has 8.5 sacks on the year, which is just a half-sack less than team leader Uchenna Nwosu.

Former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is someone who has said that he was looking for more from Taylor, as he relayed a conversation he had with fellow former Seahawks player Cliff Avril during Wednesday’s K.J. Wright Show on Seattle Sports.

“‘What is up with this dude? Like, is he good? Is he not good?'” Wright said he asked Avril. “Cliff was like, ‘He’s very talented,’ but when will he decide to show up? And then you see that he came on the scene with two sacks (Sunday against the New York Jets), jumping off the tape, jumping off the ball – like, this is the guy that we know he can be. But I want to see that guy on a more consistent basis.”

On Seattle Sports’ Pete Carroll Show on Monday, the Seahawks head coach was asked about Taylor’s recent surge, and Carroll said that he has embraced his skill set as a speed rusher.

“It’s (to) buy into that and don’t engage with the (offensive) tackle before you’ve used your speed effect on him,” Carroll said of Taylor, “because you want to see if you can get off and beat him around the corner before he can block you – just like he does, and he’s done that a number of times this year – and make that offensive guy have to get out and have to go after you to stay with you. Then other things happen, and when the guy over-sets, he jumps too quick, he leans too much, now you have a chance to counter and come back in underneath and inside.”

Wright agreed with Carroll after he heard what his former coach said about Taylor, saying it was similar to what Avril mentioned when he was a guest the previous week on the show.

“Absolutely, and Cliff said the same thing last week. He said with Darrell Taylor, his strength is his speed, and so when you’re a young guy like him and you’re still developing, you just got to go,” Wright said. “And then once you grow, once you develop, you get your hands right, you get your eyes right, you develop a countermove, you develop a first move. So it’s just an art to rushing the passer. He’s kind of still raw.”

That means the 25-year-old Taylor could still just be showing a glimpse of what he’s fully capable of.

“Really this is his second year playing, so the man is still raw,” Wright said. “Once he uses his athletic ability to beat these guys, develop these tools, then we’ll see – ‘OK, now this is the guy that we drafted early in the draft, now this is a guy that we can build a team around.’ But right now, he’s not quite there to where I want him to be a phenomenal pro.”

The K.J. Wright Show airs during the full 8 a.m. hour of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk every Wednesday during the Seahawks season. You can listen to this week’s edition in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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