LOS ANGELES –- In the NFL, coaches and players on opposing teams who know each other from previous stops often take a moment on the field to catch up, before or during pregame warmups.
Sunday, before the Rams play the visiting Eagles, brothers Zac and Press Taylor will take more than a minute – they’ll find a spot in the Los Angeles Coliseum stands and grab as much time as they can get before duty calls.
Zac Taylor is the Rams’ 35-year-old quarterbacks coach, in charge of Jared Goff. Press Taylor, who turns 31 next month, is the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach, in charge of Carson Wentz, and now, Nick Foles, in the wake of Wentz’s diagnosis of a stress fracture in his back, which the Eagles said was discovered through testing this week.
“We’ll get out there early – three and a half hours before the game starts,” Zac Taylor said this week. He said the brothers won’t be face-to-face again until March. “That 30 minutes [together] is probably the only time I’ll see him in person until the [NFL Scouting Combine].”
When they don’t have a game against each other, “we see each other twice a year,” Zac Taylor said – a family trip in late June, and the combine, in March.
Press Taylor said it’s even hard, given their schedules, to talk much on the phone; they generally stay in touch by text.
“There’s a three-hour time difference,” Press said. “With our schedules, when I’m driving in early in the morning, he’s asleep, when I’m going home at night, they’re in the middle of their meetings, so it’s more text messages throughout the week, and maybe Friday night we get a chance to catch up a little bit, if my wife will let me.”
They don’t even get to admire each other’s handiwork all that often. Press Taylor said he watches Rams film only when the Eagles are playing them, or when there is a “crossover game” with a common opponent.
This is the third NFL coaching meeting for the Taylors, but the first in which each brother is in charge of a position room. In 2015, Zac’s Dolphins defeated Press’s Eagles, 20-19, when Zac was Miami’s quarterbacks coach and Press was an offensive quality control assistant under Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Last year, Zac was the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach and Press was the Eagles’ assistant quarterbacks coach, as the Eagles defeated the Rams, 43-35.
“This is kind of the rubber match, here,” Press Taylor joked.
Actually, they’re vying for a plate on the trophy hailing the victor. The Taylor Bro Bowl Trophy sits in the Norman, Okla., office of the brothers’ father, Sherwood Taylor, a former Oklahoma Sooners defensive back and college assistant coach. Zac said they got the idea from another NFL coaching family. So trophy bragging rights are a coveted honor in the Taylor family, right, Zac?
“It’s more of a conversation piece for us,” he said.
It would be fascinating to compare the brothers’ insights on Goff and Wentz, the first and second players selected in the 2016 NFL draft, but, well, the Taylor brothers don’t do that. Even with each other.
“They’re always going to be compared forever, being one and two,” Press Taylor said. “They’re in different systems, they have a different style of play, so people are always going to want to compare them, but ultimately, I think it’s just fun to see two young quarterbacks really playing well and continuing to grow every single year in their game.”
“It’s something people bring up to us, more than we talk about it,” Zac said. “Unfortunately we play each other. So you don’t get the chance to talk about your own offenses. I really wish he was in the AFC, it was a team we wouldn’t be playing for three or four years.”
Because the Rams and the Eagles are NFC opponents, the brothers’ football conversations tend to be pretty generic, Zac said, “like conversations I would have with other friends around the league.”
Zac was a starting quarterback at Nebraska, Press was a backup at Marshall, but both grew up with a strong interest in coaching, passed down from their father. Sherwood Taylor got out of college coaching a long time ago but he coached the boys’ youth teams in every sport, Zac said.
Zac said he feels he and Press have similar coaching philosophies. Several years ago, they came at offense from very different perspectives, Press heavily influenced by Kelly’s hurry-up style, Zac having worked more in West Coast systems. But then Zac served as QB coach in Miami under Bill Lazor, Kelly’s first quarterbacks coach with the Eagles, and Press started working with Doug Pederson., who hails from the Andy Reid West Coast tradition.
“We realize how fortunate we are to work with the guys we get to work with, and the systems we get to work in,” Press said. “I’m very excited for my brother and all the success he’s had with the Rams.”
Their parents and their two sisters will make the trip from Oklahoma to Los Angeles for the game, but Press’s wife, Brooklyn, is due with the couple’s second child this weekend. Press would just as soon she wait until he gets home, though maybe being born during a Taylor brothers showdown would be something that could be noted with a plate on the trophy.
Though Sherwood Taylor stores the hardware in his office, the family doesn’t really relish these encounters, Zac said.
“It’s never fun for them, I can promise you that. It's not fun for either one of our wives, it’s not fun for our [parents]. It’s cool to see their sons coaching in the game, but I think there is a lot of stress involved,” he said.
Is that how the brothers feel, as well?
“No – we want to win,” Zac said. “What it comes down to is, we want the best for our teams. I love my brother, I want him to do well against everybody else, but when he plays the Rams, I want what’s best for us. I’m sure he feels the same way about the Eagles.”
Upset stomachs aside, who will the Taylor parents and female siblings root for Sunday?
“They’ll be in the Rams family section; they’d better know where they’re at,” Zac said.
“They’ll root for the offense,” Press said.