Bill Belichick does not appear amused by question comparing Khalil Mack to Lawrence Taylor
The Patriots coach doesn't think anyone else should be in Lawrence Taylor's class
The Patriots are playing the Bears this weekend, so naturally when Bill Belichick hopped on the mic for his press conference there were plenty of inquires about Khalil Mack, the destructive pass-rushing force of nature the Bears acquired this offseason from the Raiders.
Mack's been outstanding this year, registering five sacks, four forced fumbles, three passes defensed and an interception. He's been a one-man wrecking crew for Chicago and Belichick knows it.
"He gets after everybody. He's a very disruptive player, so he turns it over on sacks, strip-sacks, fumbles, tipped balls, interceptions," Belichick said in response to a question about Mack. "He's a really strong run player, he's a good pass rusher, he's got speed, he's got power. He's very aware and instinctive. So, yeah, he does more than sack the quarterback – he knocks the ball away from him, but he knocks it off running backs, too. He's tough."
That was the initial question posed to Belichick and there were a slew of follow ups, mostly standard stuff about how Mack and Eddie Goldman fit into the Bears defense, playing the run versus playing the pass, coverage disguises, etc., yada yada yada.
Then someone asked Belichick about where Mack ranks compared to Lawrence Taylor, the Hall of Fame pass-rushing demon Belichick coached while with the New York Giants.
Belichick's response was classic Belichick. Someone got too cute and decided to try and loop in a relevant historical comparison involving Belichick.
"Now, wait a minute. We're talking about Lawrence Taylor now," Belichick said, at which point everyone started to chuckle at his response before realizing he was not being funny.
"Yeah, I'm not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor's class," Belichick said before an extremely pregnant pause. "So ...
"You can put everybody down below that," Belichick continued. "With a lot of respect to a lot of good players now, but we're talking about Lawrence Taylor."
And that was that. You can see it for yourself at the four-minute mark here, but the gist is very simple: comparing someone on a rookie contract to Lawrence Freaking Taylor is outlandish and insulting to the man who coached Taylor.
If you watch Taylor's "A Football Life" -- and you really should, it's freaking great -- you come to understand just how Belichick feels about arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history. Taylor would come off the field and to the sidelines and draw up the opponent's blocking assignments for Belichick so they could devise the best possible adjustments for attacking the offense on the other side.
There was an anecdote in there too from Harry Carson and other Giants players about how Taylor fell asleep in a defensive meeting one time because he was so hungover. Naturally Belichick started yelling at him to wake up, so Taylor pops up, says something snarky like "what's so hard about putting in a game plan," goes to the whiteboard and proceeds to draw up the Giants entire schematic approach to rushing the passer for the entire game in about five minutes. He then went back to sleep.
Taylor won an MVP, went to the Pro Bowl 10 times, was an eight-time All Pro and was Defensive Player of the Year three times. The evolution of the left tackle as a critical position in football, as chronicled by Michael Lewis in "The Blind Side," is basically a direct result of Taylor destroying opposing offensive linemen. The NFL didn't start keeping sacks as an official stat until after Taylor showed up, and they basically started keeping sacks as an official stat BECAUSE Taylor emerged on the scene.
He has 132.5 sacks, officially, although Taylor had 9.5 unofficial sacks as a rookie. His prime from 1981 through 1990 is some of the most havoc-wrecking defensive football you'll ever see played. Taylor was an original freak, a game-changing defensive player who terrorized quarterbacks and might go down in history as the greatest defender of all time.
Khalil Mack is great and could easily become a Hall of Fame player, but he's not in LT's class. Just ask the greatest coach of all time. Or don't, actually.
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