The high level of mutual respect between Jimmy Johnson and Jason Taylor has always been obvious, but that was reinforced when Taylor recently announced that he wanted JJ to present him at his Aug. 5 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I told Jason I was honored and happy to do it,” Johnson said by phone earlier this month, adding that the challenge has been writing a speech “where it’s not too long. They tape the speech now, because everyone got so long winded over the years.”
Before his second year coaching the Dolphins, Johnson selected Taylor in the third round, 73rd overall, out of Akron in the 1997 draft.
Johnson then coached Taylor in JJ’s final three seasons coaching the Dolphins.
Taylor went on to be a six-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time first- or second-team All-Pro. Taylor was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 and also named the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007.
He is one of four Dolphins players to be elected to the Hall in their first year of eligibility; Dan Marino, Jim Langer and Paul Warfield are the others.
He ranks seventh all-time on the NFL career sacks list with 139.5. Bruce Smith is No. 1 with 200.
“Jason is everything a coach would want - smart, competitive and the thing about him that stands out more than anything else is he made plays that won ball games,” Johnson said. “The three years I coached Jason we were in the playoffs, won a couple playoff games, and led the NFL in defense.”
Though the Dolphins will be practicing at 11 a.m. on the day of the induction - five days before their preseason opener - Miami will send a contingent to Canton, including Dan Marino, Taylor’s former teammate.
Taylor, incidentally, recently sat for eight hours while sculptors made his Hall of Fame bust. He was able to move around a bit during that process.
• Johnson, incidentally, believes the Dolphins will again be a playoff contender – “they’re a good team and will only get better” – and likes UM’s chances. “It looks like their recruiting has improved.”
Regarding the Dolphins, JJ said he loves Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi, loves the job Adam Gase has done with Ryan Tannehill and believes the defense will be better.
• Every offseason, Johnson shares his knowledge with coaches who visit his home in the Keys. Among this year’s guests: Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Browns executive Paul DiPodesta (the former Dodgers general manager who changed sports).
Falcons coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff planned to visit two weeks ago, but weather canceled their flight after they got on the plane.
Johnson said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney “wanted to send a plane to pick me up and take me to Clemson. I said it doesn't work that way. I said come down here. I don't leave the Keys.”
This is the third of several posts today. Here’s my story on Dion Waiters advocating Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami. Here are some UM personnel nuggets from Mark Richt. And please check back tonight for a fourth post... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz