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  Taylor on Top
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by Chris Shashaty, Phins.com Columnist

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“99, right on time!”


That’s what Joe Rose, Dolphins radio color man, likes to say when Jason Taylor makes one of his usual game-changing plays.


Now that statement means a little bit more.



Taylor has earned NFL Defensive Player of the Year recognition, only the third Dolphin to ever be so honored; Dick Anderson (1973) and Doug Betters (1983) were the others.


As Dolphin Nation continues to stew in a sea of anger and bitterness in the wake of Benedict Saban’s disgraceful departure from the Dolphins, Taylor picks us all up with pride, just as he always does, “right on time”.


The award is so well deserved. For the season, he racked up 60 tackles (40 solo), tallied13½ sacks and probably 100 or so pressures, recovered 2 fumbles and forced 9 others, intercepted 2 passes for touchdowns, defended 10 passes, prevented untold number of potential pass receivers to stay at home to help block, and created general and regular disruption each and every game.


Let’s not forget the superb leadership he provides to the other players. No one does it better than Taylor.


More precisely, Jason Taylor is the best defensive player on the planet. He’s the Dan Marino of this generation. He’s a warrior. And, with this award, he further strengthens his case as the best defender in Dolphin history.


"There's nobody I've seen that has played anywhere near close to the level that he's at”, said New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. “He ruins a lot of games offensively for teams."


‘JT’, as he is affectionately called, surely ruined the Patriots on December 10, just as Belichick feared he would.


“Jason, I think, is at the top of his game, which is indicative if you’re being considered for the player of the year on defense”, marveled ex-officio Dolphin defensive domo Dom Capers. “I was just thoroughly impressed with the way he played all year. He was consistent. He impacted games. In almost every game, he impacted that game and made a big play, which is what great players do. You see him cause a fumble or sack the quarterback or intercept the ball and score touchdowns. He did it all.”


Taylor’s been doing it since being drafted in the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft out of Akron University. Throughout his career, he has averaged almost 11 sacks and 60 tackles per season.


Great players are consistent each and every season. Taylor is consistent, healthy or not.


Amazing stuff considering that he gives up over 50lbs in size to the linemen he regularly embarrasses.


In 2006, JT passed the 100 sack milestone for his career, an important prerequisite for serious Hall of Fame consideration. The 2006 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award adds even more weight to his resume.


With every game that he plays, it is just becoming so very clear that he will indeed achieve enshrinement in Canton one day.


Edwin Pope, the venerable columnist for The Miami Herald and a Hall voter, has already declared that Taylor is bona fide Hall material. Who would argue otherwise?


As for Taylor’s opinion, he’s always the first to defer credit to his teammates.


Said Taylor, “It’s great to win it. My name gets to go next to it, but this is an award for, like I told Vonnie (Holliday), for Vonnie, Kevin (Carter), Keith (Traylor), Jeff Zgonina, Matt (Roth), David Bowens, Zach (Thomas), Channing (Crowder), Donnie Spragan, Will Allen, Goody (Andre Goodman), Yeremiah (Bell) and Renaldo (Hill) in the back end. This is a team thing that I couldn’t do by myself. I’m just the lucky recipient of making some good plays and getting to stand in front of you guys more so than them. They do all the hard work and make my job easy.”


So perhaps it is more fitting to get the proper perspective from Anderson as he’s stood in Taylor’s shoes.


“The award is about making plays that make a difference and Jason certainly did that this year,” said Anderson. ”Doug Betters and I both talked about how Jason has played and that he should win because he’s a spectacular player. He’s a guy that changes the scope of a game. When we played, I always believed I was on offense when I was on defense. I wanted to get my hands on the ball. I wanted to make and cause fumbles. That’s how the defense makes a difference in the game and Jason does that better than anyone has ever done with the Miami Dolphins. He really deserves this award.”


For those you worried that Taylor might retire soon, you can relax. He thankfully put those rumors to bed this past weekend.


"If (the new coach will) have me, I'll be back in Miami," Taylor said. "The day Tom Brady outruns (me), I'll retire but that day's not going to come quick."


Thank goodness for that. More of #99 “on time” is what the Dolphins need and what Dolfans love to see.




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