The Miami Dolphins defensive line has been simply dominating this season. The team came into this week's game against the Cincinnati Bengals allowing the fewest rushing yards in the league. Pro Football Focus ranked the team's rush defense as the second best in the league, led by the fifth best defensive tackle, Randy Starks.
Starks entered yesterday's contest with 12 tackles and three sacks. Against the Bengals, Starks added three more tackles, a half sack, two passes defensed, and an interception. The interception ties Starks with the Arizona Cardinals' Darnell Dockett and Minnesota Vikings' Kevin Williams for the lead in career interceptions among active defensive linemen with four.
"It's just reaction," Starks said about the play. "It wasn't something I was thinking about. You've got point-five seconds. I just read the quarterback's eyes and was fortunate enough to make a play."
After the game, Miami head coach Joe Philbin was asked about the interception from Starks, one of two picks Miami had on the day. "Yeah, it was a really big play," Philbin said. "We told him we needed more, and it was great to see."
That's what Starks gives the Dolphins every single week - more. Starks' second career interception came in the Dolphins' final game of 2011, when Starks picked off the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez with 16 seconds to go in the first half. Starks wasn't done in that game, either, picking off another Sanchez pass in the fourth quarter.
With the interception yesterday, that gives Starks three interceptions in his last six games.
After Starks' performance against the Bengals yesterday, Dolphins' reserve defensive tackle Tony McDaniel said. ""We need to put him on the 'hands' team. "What is this, like his third pick since the last game of last year? I told him, 'I would say it's luck, but he's doing it consistently.'"
And, that's it exactly. Starks is doing this consistently. In his ninth year in the league, Starks is becoming one of the top defensive tackles in the league. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010, and could very well be on his way to his second career selection.
This past offseason, the Dolphins re-signed defensive tackle Paul Soliai to a two year contract, running through the 2013 season. Soliai was coming off a Pro Bowl selection and signed a $12 million deal. The Dolphins could find themselves repeating that process this offseason with Starks.
And, with the way Starks is playing, this is a deal they absolutely have to get done.