BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick has a special place in his heart for Lawrence Taylor.
The Hall of Famer is perhaps the greatest defensive player to ever take an NFL field, and won a pair of Super Bowls with the Giants in Belichick’s defensive system. So if you compare anyone to L.T., the Patriots head coach is going to put you in your place.
The Patriots visit the Chicago Bears on Sunday, who are led by defensive game-changer Khalil Mack. The linebacker has been an absolute force since being traded to Chicago by the Oakland Raiders ahead of the season, turning the Bears defense into a dominating unit.
When asked Wednesday if Mack’s pass-rushing abilities are up there with Taylor’s, Belichick seemed to be a little offended by the inquiry.
“Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now,” he questioned. “I’m not putting anybody in Lawrence Taylor’s class, so. Put everyone down below that, and that’s with a lot of respect to a lot of good players now.
“But we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor,” Belichick concluded.
Belichick and Taylor formed the ultimate odd couple during their time with the New York Giants; Bill with his no-nonsense focus on football and Taylor with his … lively life off the field. But together they were a dangerous defensive duo. A four-time Defensive Player of the Year and the 1986 MVP, Taylor was a threat to get to the quarterback on every snap, no matter how many guys tried to block him. Teams would tailor their entire game plan around him, and even then, had little success keeping him in check.
Taylor certainly enjoyed Belichick’s remarks on Wednesday.
Belichick did offer up plenty of praise for Mack, who has five sacks and four forced fumbles for Chicago. The Patriots will have their hands full with him on Sunday, even if he is hobbled by a bad ankle, and Belichick knows this.
“He’s a very disruptive player, so he turns it over on sacks, strip-sacks, fumbles, tipped balls, interceptions. He’s a really strong run player, he’s a good pass rusher, he’s got speed, he’s got power,” Belichick said. “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.”
But don’t compare Mack, or anyone else for that matter, to Lawrence Taylor, especially when Bill Belichick is around.