I've just finished reading an article on Sactown Royalty, the official SB Nation website for the NBA's Sacramento Kings. The article was about upcoming slashing Small Forward, Donte Greene. Donte is entering his third season in the NBA, and much like any young player, he is trying to establish an identity for himself.
Now, Donte Greene (I'll get to Jay in a minute, before you give up on this) has a build that's wiry, for his style of play. His play is catered to the coach who needs a shutdown defender for the last minute of the game. He thrives on perimeter defense and three-point shooting.
Donte stands at 6'11, and he is what some may call a "tweener", where he's big enough to play at the Power Forward position, yet the coaching staff likes him at the Small Forward position.
This past off-season, Donte hit the weight room, and tried to fill out his frame. Last year Donte weighed 220 pounds, enough to be quick enough on his feet, yet heavy enough to stay with some of the best talent in the NBA. Donte's weight skyrocketed to a hefty 260 pounds.
Donte came to camp 40 pounds larger than he was last season, and in turn, lost some of his trademark quickness and had the body of someone who plays the Power Forward position, a position where the Kings were deep at after they drafted two Power Foward/Center types.
Now why did Donte hit the weight room, gain all this muscle and show up the camp, all to find out it was for naught? Well, that's my question. The coaching staff asked Donte to lose the weight. He's now at a reasonable 244.
Onto Jay Ratliff now. For my birthday, I received an authentic Jay Ratliff jersey. Fresh off of his All-Pro campaign, the season where I was mesmerized by his backfield quickness and 3rd-and-1 stops. Last year, Jay surpassed DeMarcus Ware as my favourite Cowboy defender. After the Cowboys lost to the Vikings, I turned on my PS3 (after a good hour of crying...), started a Franchise and played with Jay Ratliff on every defensive down spanning 3 seasons.
I simply couldn't get enough.
So here I am, sitting on my couch waiting for the Hall of Fame game to start. I'm eager to see how good the rookies look, and how hungry the young kids are. But more so, I was excited to see the one drive where Jay was playing. So as I saw the defense enter the game, I saw a different Jay Ratliff. A different Jay Ratliff from the one I had seen last season. A different Jay Ratliff than I saw cause disruption and sack the Quarterback six times last season.
I was wondering, what happened? I though to myself, was it the highly-documented MMA training that changed him? Was it the elbow spur surgery? What was it?
Skip past the Chargers, Dolphins and Texans games to Week 1. Dallas at Washington, Cowboys versus Redskins. Some of my favourite games of the year. I thought to myself, Jay will wrap up Clinton Portis a few times, maybe get at McNabb, more importantly, make some key plays. I watched, and I watched, and I watched, only to see my favourite defensive player have zero impact on one of the most important games of the season.
I watched the Bears game, and then the Texans game, only to see the same. Jay Ratliff was non-existent. I realized something must be wrong.
I tried to find a picture of Jay on the Internet in the Texans game, only to see his build. As we all know, a lot of people say Jay Ratliff isn't big enough to make an impact at the Defensive Tackle position in the NFL. I'll admit, he is smaller than your prototypical DT. But this season, he looks more like a Linebacker.
He's being manhandled and thrown to the ground by less than stellar Offensive Lineman. He's made zero impact on any game this year, and I have a hunch it's his weight.
Now during the off-season, did anyone keep tabs on him, do you think? Did anyone set up a plan to help him stay at his steady weight of 305? He was perfect for our scheme last year, yet JJ and Wade maybe have messed it up? What about Paul P, what was he doing about Jay Ratliff in the off-season?
My real question is, how come Jay Ratliff is so small this year? And why, after a very good All-Pro campaign, is he smaller and thus less effective? Considering the amount of problems the Cowboys have this year, an All-Pro, defenseive standout should not be one of them. Did the coaches do anything about it?
Thanks for your time,