Hall-of-Famer Chris Doleman knows about getting to the quarterback and getting to the football. His 150-1/2 career sacks rank fourth in the NFL, and he’s among the all-time leaders in forced fumbles with 44.
But to get to the quarterback you must get past his protection … which means Chris Doleman also knows something about offensive tackles. There are two in this year’s Hall-of-Fame class, Joe Jacoby and Tony Boselli, and Doleman played against both.
So, on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, we asked him which he liked … and it wasn’t easy.
"If I had to pick one," he said, "I would go with Joe Jacoby. Just for the simple fact that Joe Jacoby lined up against Lawrence Taylor two times a year. When he played Dallas he always had to play either Charles Haley or one of the great defensive ends that were coming from that side of the ball.
"His works speak for themselves. This is his 19th year of eligibility, and if we don’t recognize him now when are we going to recognize him?"
Jacoby became a first-time finalist last year in his 18th year of eligibility and pulled one of the biggest surprises when he made the cut to 10. He is not what you'd call a favorite this year, but because he went so deep into the vote a year ago as a first-time finalist he is considered a wildcard for the Class of 2017.
And maybe that’s the way it should be. Because when we asked Doleman what makes a good … or great … pass protector, he again referenced Jacoby.
"There are two types (of pass protectors)," he said. "One, there's a puncher-and-reset type of guy. So I would look at (Hall-of-Fame guard) Willie Roaf, who would sit back there, and he wants to stop your momentum, then reset, then stop your momentum and reset you.
"Then there's the guy who is the counter puncher, a little bit more of a patient player who would allow you to make your move first. Then he locks in on you and is able to either run you past the quarterback or run you down inside toward the guard. Those are the kinds of guys who make it very difficult.
"Joe Jacoby had a long body. The guys who gave me the most trouble were very athletic guys. So you say, 'How is Joe Jacoby known as a very athletic guy?' Well, his feet and the way he kept his butt to the quarterback … it was the perfect position to keep that defensive end trying to get him upfield and coming underneath or trying to get him down inside, close to that guard, and work around that corner.
"So his protection -- and that type of protection -- are very, very difficult to beat. And he's such a long body. I mean, you think you're past him, and, all of a sudden, boom, he gives you a little push and knocks you off line."