Defensive Tackle Woes Reach Beyond Cowboys' Ratliff

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We are merely a few days removed from Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jay Ratliff’s abrupt designation to PUP status.  The shock waves of his elimination from the first six games of 2013 continue to remain unsettling.

Dec. 4, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys nose tackle (90) Jay Ratliff against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Not to beat a dead horse as many articles have already addressed this topic, yet the urgent ramifications of this development still aren’t being fully realized.

With Ratliff now eliminated from greater than 1/3 of the entire season, the casualty list total increases to more than one of the top 3 defensive tackles heading into camp.

Tyrone Crawford was primarily slotted at DE, backing up Anthony Spencer before suffering a season-ending injury right out of the camp gates.

However, Crawford was also set to see significant snaps in pass rushing situations from the 3-technique.  His versatility through an ideal size/power/speed combination was more than capable of being very effective at both strong-side DE and the 3-technique DT.

There’s little doubt defensive coaches Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli viewed Crawford as their 3rd best option at DT.  The buzz has now focused squarely on the startling loss of Ratliff for 6 games.

Yet we cannot simply overlook the massive damage incurred to the DT position through BOTH the costly exits of Crawford and Ratliff.

During the off-season, the team fiercely backed Spencer, Ratliff, Hatcher, Ware, and sub Crawford as more than capable of fielding a dominating d-line with solid rotation ability.

No significantly talented veterans or rookies were added to the front line mix.  Their decision was a sound choice.  With the information and personnel on hand at the time, I fully agreed with their stance.

As of this week, things have changed drastically.  2 of the top 3 DT’s are no longer protecting the star for the opening 6 games, at minimum.  The talent level of these guys far exceeded those below them.

To cover this drastic loss in available talent, the Cowboys must immediately make legitimate preparations through the quality addition of a proven, starting caliber DT.

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