It seems like everyone wants to focus on Anthony Spencer and how much he's going to cost as well as how productive he's going to be at DE in the new 4-3 scheme and how DeMarcus Ware will hold up to a new, more physically demanding position. But what about our DT's in this new scheme? Right now the projected starters at DT are Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher with Sean Lissemore, Robert Callaway, Ben Bass, and Brian Price backing them up. There seems to be a consensus that Hatcher will start at one of the DT positions no matter how the draft turns out, but I think everyone has forgotten how good Jay Ratliff can be.
I'd have to do some research on this to be sure, but when Ratliff was healthy last season, that seemed to be when we got most of our pressure on the QB as opposed to when we had Josh Brent, Lissemore, and Calloway manning the position.
IF Ratliff can stay healthy for the whole season, I think that he could have a career year in this scheme while helping Hatcher, Ware, and Spencer preform at extremely high levels as well.
As we all know by now, jobs 1, 1a, 1b,1c, 1d, and 2 of the defensive line in Monte Kiffin's defense are to attack the quarterback. Not to rush him, attack him. Now think back to the glory days of the Tampa 2 defense. That defensive line revolved around a penetrating DT that could consistently beat double teams and get to the QB while playing well against the run as well... sound familiar? Ratliff, while not even close to being in the same league as HOFer Warren Sapp, has that exact skill set and isn't exactly a scrub either.
Here comes the really good part: aside from Simeon Rice, can anyone name another defensive lineman who played for Tampa in the early 2000's without looking them up? Nope? Didn't think so. In 2002, the Bucs' Super Bowl year, starting DE Greg Spires notched 3.5 sacks while starting DT Anthony McFarland made just 1.5 of them. This defense doesn't require much of anything out of the two "other" starters. For our "Dallas 2", our "other" starters consist of Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer... I'm pretty sure those guys can each demolish 5 sacks this year by themselves, let alone combine for it.
So having said that, I submit to you that if Ratliff can stay healthy, our defensive line will be among the best if not number 1 in the league because of the interior pressure that he and Hatcher will bring on every play.