Sack story

The Dolphins had their ups and downs on defense throughout the season, but one thing they've done consistently well is rush the passer. As a result, the Dolphins could set a single-season franchise record with two sacks against the Patriots on Sunday.

The Dolphins will enter the game with a league-leading 48 sacks, which is one short of the team record of 48, set in 1983. You may remember that as the year when Doug Betters led the NFL with 16 sacks.

This year's Dolphins, as usual, have been led by Jason Taylor, who has 12.

The Dolphins have been particularly impressive of late, with 22 sacks in the last five games, including four last Sunday against Tennessee.

By the way, don't think Dolphins players are on pins and needles in anticipation at setting the record. David Bowens, for example, said Wednesday there has been zero talk of the potential record among the defensive linemen.

It's actually a pretty impressive record when you think about it.

So how have the Dolphins gotten here?

First, the Dolphins put together an offensive line with a lot of pass-rushing ability. Think about it. To join Taylor, the Dolphins brought in both Kevin Carter and Vonnie Holliday. Holliday had at least five sacks in each of his first six NFL seasons before he was slowed by injuries last year. Carter, meanwhile, reached double figures three straight seasons with a high of 17 in 1999.

Then there's Nick Saban's scheme, which has brought the blitz back to Miami after several years where the Dolphins rarely brought more than the four defensive linemen.

Making the scheme work have been some defensive backs with good blitzing ability, most notably Yeremiah Bell, who tied a team record for defensive backs with three sacks this season. Reggie Howard, for all the criticism his coverage has received, also is a good blitzer.

If the Dolphins can accomplish this much with the pass rush in the first year in Saban's scheme, there's certainly reason to think the pass rush could be a factor on a yearly basis.

And that's just one more reason to be optimistic about the future.


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