Saturday, July 25, 2009

Is Jason Taylor a Hall of Famer?

Among my many flaws, is the fact that I am a diehard Miami Dolphin fan. In fact, it was Curt Fennell's wonderful Miami Dolphins Listserv that first drew me to a computer terminal back in 1993 or so. And it kept drawing me all through college and the rest of my life. Curt was one of the first fans to really put time and effort into making something for others on this crazy thing we call the internets. His has been around since before the 1994 season. Curt is truly one of the pioneers who drew people into online communities. And he did it without porn, which is impressive.

Anyway, one of the listserv's longtime subscribers, JP recently posted a question that was posed to him: Is Jason Taylor a Hall of Famer? JP did not think he would make it, After spending an hour pouring over stats and crafting my response, I realized I might as well make a post out of my answer and ask the BTPC's readers (yes...Reino and Danny) what they thought. So read my case for Mr. Taylor and let me know what you think.

JP I will accept the gauntlet you have laid down and will make the argument for Taylor being a complete player. I would agree that I'm not sure he makes it into the HOF, but that's only because I think people BEYOND Dolfans see him as you describe: not being a complete player. I think a majority of people who did not watch him all the time considered Taylor a one-dimensional pass rushing type defensive end. However, I have always felt the guy was way better as an every down end then people gave him credit for.

Jason Taylor (6-6, 255 lbs. 12 seasons, 6 Pro-Bowls and 3 All-Pros) has 120.5 sacks, 7 ints, 44 forced fumbles, 460 tackles and 8 TDs. 2006 AP Defensive MVP, 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year.

Compare to two of the more recent players Pro Football Reference's site "compares" his career to:

Warren Sapp (6-2, 303 lbs 13 seasons, 7 PB and 4 APs) had 96.5, 4 ints, 19 FF and 438 tackles and 3 TDs.

John Randle (6-1 291 lbs. 14 seasons, 7 PB and 6 APs) 137.5, 1, 29, and 471 and 1 TD.

It's funny, that both of those guys are DTs and he's got more tackles than either of them. But, who was the other big name DEs during Taylor's era?

Michael Strahan (6-5 275 lbs. 15 seasons, 7 PB and 4 APs) 141.5 sacks, 4 ints, 24 FF and 667 tackles. 2001 AP Defensive MVP

Bruce Smith (6-4, 262 lbs. 19 seasons, 11 PB and 8 APs) 200 sacks, 2 ints, 43 FF, 1078 tackles and 1 TD. 1990 & '96 AP Def. MVP.

Reggie White (6-5, 291 lbs. 15 seasons, 13 PBs and 8 APs) 198 sacks, 3 ints, 33 FF, 1048 tackles and 2 TDs. 1987 and '98 AP Defensive MVP.

If Taylor has two more decent seasons in him, he should pass Strahan's sack total. While he may have played with both White and Smith, would you consider them his peers? Both White and Smith were done by the time Taylor came on (their careers ending late 90s, Taylor taking off in 2000). No...probably only Strahan could really truly be considered a peer as a DE. He was the lankiest, lightest guy on this list, yet he has more tackles than Sapp and Randle, the two who played true DT most of their careers in fewer seasons. No one comes close to the guys 8 TDs. His 7 ints are well out ahead of every one else and he also has more forced fumbles.

I mean, if Taylor was not a complete player at his position, who was? We've all watched his whole career and can anyone who has done that say they think teams ever beat us by running at Taylor? I can remember a few teams trying it and announcers making comments before about his size and how it was going to be the opposing teams strategy to deal with Taylor, but did it ever really work? The announcers would always say that was the opponents strategy, that they were going to keep going right at Taylor to tire him out, but they never stayed with it all game, because Taylor was hell to block and he would eventually start disrupting the plays.

Take a look at the rosters for the Pro Bowls through his career. Who are the other DEs you see?

Freeney, Peppers, Kearney, Smith, Ogunleye, Rice, Little, Pryce, Abraham, Douglas, Kearse, & Porcher. I mean...are any of these guys more "complete" than Taylor was? More importantly, were any of them the disruptive force Taylor was? Those 44 forced fumbles and 8 TDs mean something. Taylor changed games.

I remember sitting in the endzone in the Jungle in Cincinnati with my old roommate Catfish back on October 1, 2000. I remember it well, because the Gamecocks had beaten #10 Georgia at home the day before and during warm ups, when he was ignoring everyone else, I got Arturo Freeman to walk over to the wall and give us daps by yelling, " 'bout them Gamecocks?!" Anyway, we were taking all kinds of shit from Bengals fans, because the Bengals were spanking our ass the entire first half. But right before the half, down 13-3, Taylor blew by his guy, sacked the Qb, stripped the ball and took it 29 yards to the house. TD. Momentum completely changed. Dolphins go on to win 31-16. Catfish and I get removed from "our" seats to our real seats by a pissed off Bengal fan complaining to security that we were sitting in seats not ours. Our real seats happen to be right behind that guy, who is wearing a OSU hat, which leads to an second half full of the Michigan fight song being sung in said assholes ear every time the Dolphins made a play. Good times.

The point is, Taylor did that all the time. More so than I can remember any of his peers. Personally, I don't think he's done. I expect some big plays from him this year, even if he will be more of a situational player now. Remember, the guy is only one season removed from being the Defensive MVP of the league. But to respond to your gauntlet, I certainly believe the guy WAS a complete player. And yes, I think he's a Hall of Famer.

1 comment:

Mike Reino said...

Dude, you're on vacation !! The wife must be thrilled that you're posting instead of spending 'quality time' with her..

Anyway, onto the gauntlet. Like you know, I am a numbers guy. But, in any HOF votes, there are non-numerical items that affect these things. The comparisons are pretty good, but DT's can't really be compared to DE's. A DT's job is to take up space and not be moved - kind of like a Congressman. They don't generally pile up stats, which makes Warren Sapp's numbers a bit more impressive. Fantasy football teaches us that DT's are not good choices for stats. Zach Thomas was a tackling machine for The Fins, and i think he'll get there.

Now, onto the Sexiest guy in football. Taylor has non-stat pros and cons: everyone knows him, chicks dig him. That helps. But, there is one huge item that wasn't discussed: The Hardware. Miami never won anything with Taylor, and the hardware goes a long way towards making the HOF. Look at all the Steelers from the 70's. Lynn Swann didn't have great career stats, but he kicked ass on the big stage. They've been playing that show on the Brooklyn Dodgers on HBO this month - all of those guys are in the HOF, even though not all of their stats were the best. Even look at the franchise - I think Griese is in the Hall, and he barely completed 50% of his passes. It matters a lot.

All that aside, I think he will eventually make the hall, much like Jim Rice took 20 years to do so this year. He was very good, not spectacular, like Strahan - who I also don't think is a Hall of Famer - but he's been to 2 Super Bowls, he's got a ring, and he plays in New York.