Defensive Tackle Woes Reach Beyond Cowboys' Ratliff

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I’m not here to bash Nick Hayden or claim he doesn’t have some legitimate talent.  He’s performed much better than most expected.

Aug 4, 2013; Canton, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Nick Hayden (96) celebrates with safety Matt Johnson (37) after a fumble recovery against the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s not confuse that statement, I’m certainly not saying he’s turned heads to the point of starting him with remotely similar confidence.  On July 1, Hayden was the 4th most talented DT on this team.

The injury situation at DT now has far exceeded the capabilities to ‘make due’ for a game or two.  Just getting by for a bit is letting the 3rd best guy start until an injury heals for a return to the top 2 starters.

Nick Hayden was the 4th best option recently.   When the 4th best DT is starting, that results in critical snaps given to your 5th best DT, as a part of a required rest rotation.

Going further, at times Jason Hatcher will need a break, which puts #4 and #5 playing together.  That scenario is nothing like what Dallas chose to let be back when Crawford and Ratliff were available.

Now the Cowboys’ defense is solidly counting on 2 players that most fans didn’t even recognize by name back in June.

These support players will be firmly tasked with applying interior pressure, plugging the middle run, and most importantly keeping guys off of the multi-million dollar, stud MLB Sean Lee.

The effectiveness of a MLB depends heavily on how well his DT’s can hold up and delay attacking o-linemen.  The loss of strong talent in the middle will be very costly to this predicted Top 10 defense.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Jay Ratliff Nick Hayden

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