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Real Football 365:Taylor, Archuleta form potentially lethal tandem in D.C.


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Taylor, Archuleta form potentially lethal tandem in D.C.

Now that his offseason legal troubles are behind him, Washington Redskins free safety Sean Taylor is ready to move on and prove his worth on the field. Entering the season, the two-year veteran has a new running mate accompanying him, and he's an accomplished one at that.

Football fans (who haven't been living under a rock) know Taylor's new defensive backfield teammate is 28-year-old Adam Archuleta, who was signed during the heat of the free agency period in March.

Archuleta, a former St. Louis Rams standout, became the richest safety in NFL history when he signed his six-year, $30 million deal ($10 million in guarantees) to join the Redskins organization. Archuleta, of course, was among many key signings in Washington, including defensive end Andre Carter and receiver Antwaan Randle El.

During his five-year career in Missouri, Archuleta emerged as one of the league's better defensive backs. He racked up 15 sacks in those seasons, which is almost an unheard of total for most defensive backs in the pros.

His three interceptions were nothing to get excited about, but his adept tackling skills and the aforesaid ability to rush the passer are the positive traits that separate him from most other secondary specialists. In 72 career games, Archuleta has accumulated 409 tackles, and that averages to just under six takedowns per contest-a very good number for a DB.

The Redskins have caught plenty of flack for bringing in Archuleta because of a prior injury history. A bad back plagued the defender for the past couple of seasons and he suffered a concussion in 2005, but Washington's not worried about it. If his health was poor, the Redskins' doctors never would have cleared him, and the team itself wouldn't have doled out an obscene amount of cash for his services.

When he was with the Rams organization, Archuleta had the unfortunate task of playing on a below-average defense in all but one season. The only year the Rams' defense excelled during Archuleta's tenure was in 2001, when it finished seventh in points allowed and third in total yardage, respectively. Last season, Archuleta could do little as the unit hit rock-bottom, finishing 31st in points and 30th in yardage. That can't be blamed on Archuleta, though, as no safety is capable of carrying an entire defense.

Meanwhile, the Redskins' defense emerged as one of the league's best units late in '05, imposing its will on a weekly basis. Fortunately for Archuleta, he'll finally get an opportunity to be a small fish in a copious pond swimming with defensive talent, rather than a whale of a talent in a tiny creek of mediocrity.

In Washington, with defensive leader Gregg Williams at the helm, Archuleta should fit in beautifully. As mentioned earlier, the 223-pounder's unique ability to rush the quarterback is what makes him a special player, and Williams is notorious for throwing the kitchen sink at the opposing passer, which has often led to plenty of sacks and turnovers.

Archuleta's previous career-high in sacks was five in 2003, with ex-Rams coordinator and now Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith calling the plays. Now that he has Williams--a defensive guru--in his corner, the strong safety's QB takedowns could approach his '03 total, or perhaps, better it.

Next to Archuleta is one of the game's finest playmakers, free safety Sean Taylor. Although the 23-year-old has struggled mightily with off-the-field troubles, it shouldn't take anything away from his weekend prowess. In his first two seasons, Taylor, a former fifth overall pick, has already emerged as a defensive backfield force to be reckoned with.

As a rookie in 2004, Taylor amassed 76 tackles and four interceptions in 13 starts, snatching the starting job away from veteran Matt Bowen. Taylor's interception total finished second on the team behind cornerback Shawn Springs, who had five.

Taylor's career began with a bang as a rookie, and there was no sophomore slump from the former University of Miami star last year.

On the season, Taylor made 70 tackles and two picks in 15 games. Taylor's numbers did, indeed, decrease, but his coverage skills bettered. Usually, when a great defensive back has a low amount of interceptions, it means the opposing offense is shying away from his direction. Much of the time that was the case for Taylor, who was quite instrumental in the Redskins' impressive 10-6 season.

With the upcoming season becoming more imminent by the day, one thing's for sure. The Washington Redskins have themselves a frighteningly good tandem at safety. Few teams are lucky enough to have one well above-average safety, let alone two. The Redskins' dynamic duo doesn't have the potential to be above-average, though. Instead, it has the capability to be great.

This season, look for Taylor to be the ball-hawk and Archuleta to be in the face of opposing quarterbacks each week. With Gregg Williams steering the ship, you can take that to the bank.

--Connor J. Byrne can be reached at cbyrne@realfootball365.com

I especially love the last part of it, because its true. Sean Taylor doesnt have to play the run anymore and thats why it will be hard to beat him with playaction passes etc. Archuleta will stuff the run and Sean will take care of the wideouts/tight ends. I love it. :notworthy

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It is really nice to have two physical specimens like AA and Taylor in the secondary. They are both virtually linebackers. In college, AA won the Pac 10 defensive player of the year honor actually at the LB position. And I dont think anyone on here has any doubt that taylor could come in and play LB.

We should be ready for some pretty nasty hits this year!!! :point2sky

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"Fortunately for Archuleta, he'll finally get an opportunity to be a small fish in a copious pond swimming with defensive talent, rather than a whale of a talent in a tiny creek of mediocrity."

Quite possibly the greatest analogy ever. :point2sky

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