First off I want to point out Chandus' excellent Work Here and Here. these posts got me thinking about how Dallas' Talent would fit into Ryan's schemes. Now I am no expert, but I consider myself pretty good at "shaking rosters down". So I want to take that and apply it to what we know about Ryan's defense.
As Chandus points out, Ryan likes to use multiple fronts and formation to "cause confusion" in the QB and O-line. The idea is that if you don't know who is coming then it makes it very hard to carry out "assignments" along the offensive line. However, Ryan is in a interesting spot in that he actually has two good/elite pass rushers in both D-Ware and Jay Ratliff. But that could work against Ryan in some ways also, because teams know this. Now the key will be this: can the 'other players" flourish in Ryans scheme? Because if not, then regardless of what front /formation Dallas uses, then they will still be in the same position as they were. So first I want to look at how from a roster standpoint Dallas could improve. Now I will not be adding any players(yet), just shuffling players around.
Starting off on the DL, Ratliff seemed to have a "down year". Of course that happens when you have to take on a guard and center virtually every play. Now Bowen has already caught Ryan's eye, so I expect him to take over either Olshansky's or Spears' place on the DL. Now I am not sure how Ryan feels about Lissemore, but I think if Olshansky is traded/released, then Lissemore will be the starter next to Ratliff and Bowen.
LB is a different beast. D-ware is a force of nature, James has been one of the most consistent players, Sean Lee and Victor Butler showed flashes, and Spencer, well Ryan thinks he can get production out of him. However, Brandon Williams and Keith Brooking were disappointing to say the least .
As far as the secondary goes, I am not going to go into much detail here as I am sure Dallas will pickup a FA to supplement the existing players. Who they pick up/draft will ultimately determine who stays and who goes IMO. So any secondary placements are just general placements, and are not predictions. So when I put Newman at FS, I am not saying that he WILL move there but that, assuming no FA, he MIGHT move there. Just so that we are clear on that.
Now for all set ups I am not going to be using the roster as it is now, with no resigns, or draft picks. However, after the draft I will be looking any defensive pick and looking at how they would slot in all together, similar to this combined with my How They Would Fit series.
So let's look past the jump to see how I see Ryan applying his "magic to the Dallas "D"...
First off, I want to look at the "base D" the 3-4, as I see it being this:
RDE - Sean Lissemore; NT - Jay Ratliff; LDE - Stephen Bowen
For the most part there will be few changes, notably the promotion of Sean Lee, AOA, and Sean Lissemore to "starters". No big changes here from last year other than Newman and AOA.
So let's delve into the "Exotics":
The 2-4 (2 DL-4 LBs 5 DBs)
DL - Ware, Ratliff
LBs - Butler, James, Lee, Spencer
DBs - Jenkins, AOA, Newman, Scandrick, McCann
Basically this will be a "mod 4-3" nickel with Butler, Ware, Ratliff and Spencer rushing with Lee and James "in zone"
By pulling Bowen and Lissemore, Ryan puts his best rushers on the field along with 5 DBs in coverage
The 1-4 (1 DL 4 LBs, 6 DBs)
DL - Ratliff
LBs - Ware, Lee, Spencer, Butler
DB's - Jenkins, Scandrick, AOA, Newman, McCann, Ball
Again I see a "Mod 4-3" with a twist, with Ware, Lee, Ratliff, and Butler rushing and Spencer dropping into "Zone"
The 0-4 (4 LBs and 7 DBs)
LB's Ware, Spencer, Ratliff, Butler
DB's Jenkins, Scandrick, AOA, Newman, McCann, Ball, Church
Now before you go off on me saying that Ratliff is not a LB, here is how I see it: this formation is for 3rd and 10+ yards. So you want your best pass rushers on the field, right? Of course. So Ratliff simply "stands up" in this formation, to take advantage of his quickness. That being said, I don't see Ryan using this formation this year, due to the fact that our true CB depth sucks. Frankly, if any formation requires Ball and Church to be on the field together as DB's then there will be issues.
Well that is my take on it....As I said I would like to revisit this after the draft and see where our draftees will fit in this....
As always I invite your comments and critiques, but try not to bash the Newman to FS move, as I really don't like repeating myself 50 times in the comments....