Lost in the disappointment of last Sunday’s loss to the Eagles and hidden beneath the headlines of Tony Sparano’s departure was an accomplishment that should not and can not be overlooked.
Taylor had two sacks in the game, giving him 138.5 in his career. That moved him into sixth place on the all-time list, past a pair of pretty good players in Richard Dent and John Randle, who are tied at 137.5.
It should be noted right here that both Randle and Dent are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, certainly adding ammunition to the belief that Taylor deserves equal status. Translation: Start posing for your bust, Jason, Canton Ohio will be in your future.
But that’s for another day. With this season winding down, there is a real chance that
If, however, this is indeed his last season, we should spend some time over these final three games admiring what Jason is doing, saluting what he has done and realizing how lucky we have been to have followed a player with these enormous abilities for such a long time.
Last Sunday’s two sacks gave Taylor six for the season. At 37 years old? Bringing down quick-step artist Michael Vick? Can you fathom that for a minute? This is a young man’s game. There is no way a player at such a grueling, demanding position should be playing at this high a level against players, many of whom were in the second and third grade when Taylor first arrived in this league.
So he passed John Randle and Richard Dent on the sack list? Those were two dominating players. With three more sacks, he’ll tie Michael Strahan for fifth all-time. Don’t for a minute think he can’t do it. Those who have ever doubted Jason Taylor learned long ago the mistake of doing exactly that.
While his playing days live on for the time being, it is not too early to put Taylor’s career in its proper perspective. The Dolphins have had some great defensive players over the years. Early on, there was linebacker Nick Buoniconti and safeties Jake Scott and Dick Anderson. No Names who became Big Names. Then there were the Killer B’s, a pretty good group sharing one initial. Linebacker A.J. Duhe has to be in the conversation as well as does Taylor’s brother-in-law Zach Thomas, one of my all-time favorites.
But if you want my vote, it isn’t close. Jason Taylor is to the Dolphins defense what Dan Marino was to the offense: the best it has ever seen. No disrespect to the previously mentioned players, but Taylor’s consistency, big play ability and uncanny knack of finding the quarterback simply sets him apart from the rest.
I remember when he first came into the league, how he was supposed to be undersized for a defensive lineman, how many questioned whether a player from a small college like Akron deserved to be taken in the second round. Any doubters now?
The thing that makes Jason Taylor so unique and so special is his completeness. Not only is he a great player, but he is an unquestionable leader, a giant in the community with the Jason Taylor Foundation and as good a locker room talker as this writer could ever ask for. As recently as Monday night, he was hosting his annual Ping Pong fund raiser.
But it is on the field where Taylor will be remembered most, his relentless style, the way he celebrates after a sack, the times he has sacked a quarterback, forced a fumble and scored a touchdown on the same play.
After he returned this season following a year with those hated Jets, you had to wonder whether his football tank was running on fumes. But after the six sacks so far this season, after playing so many downs and staying healthy through 13 games, after his 26th two-sack game against the Eagles, it is clear that Jason Taylor is still an important part of this defense.
Knowing Jason as I do, he wouldn’t have it any other way.