As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I'm sure learning a lot about the Cleveland Browns this offseason. With the free agency period just around the corner (hopefully), much of the speculation concerning the Cowboys interest in particular players centers on a group of defensive players from the Browns. Obviously, that makes sense, with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and linebackers coach Matt Eberflus coming over from Cleveland.
Yesterday, Cleveland released a group of players, and it included one big name, Shaun Rogers. Rogers, at 6' 4", 350-lbs, is along the lines of the prototypical nose tackle for a 3-4 defense, but his career has been dogged by a reputation that he's a lazy player who desn't really care. He's also had injury issues, including last year in Cleveland. His combination of size, talent, and physical attributes are hard to find, and when he's playing motivated football, he is a force.
So the question is: How did Rob Ryan feel about Rogers? And that leads to a more general question: Is Ryan looking for a bigger nose tackle so he can shift Jay Ratliff over to defensive end?
If Ryan goes the way a typical 3-4 defensive coordinator would go, then the odds are he will go bigger and make the move with Ratliff. Jay was perfect for the Wade Phillips 3-4 scheme, a one-gap attacking scheme where upfield quickness was highly valued. Ryan will run an aggressive defense, but it may not play to Ratliff's strengths in the middle like Phillips' did. In the same process, Dallas would instantly upgrade its defensive end position.
Back to Rogers, a player who creates a lot of different reactions from fans. The guys over at Dawgs By Nature (SB Nation's Browns blog) are pretty sedate about his release, noting that he only played about a third of the snaps on defense last year because of injury.
Rob Ryan had this to say about Rogers in 2009 according to ESPN Dallas:
"He is a tremendous physical specimen," Ryan said of Rogers in the summer of 2009. "He is so athletic for a big man. I've been around the best in football. I've been around Warren Sapp in college. I coached Jamal Williams and Kevin Williams, a couple of decent All-Pro defensive tackles. . . . Shaun Rogers is tremendous. Absolutely tremendous. Any system that he plays in, he is going to be dominant."
But in Cleveland, he wasn't dominant.
What do you guys think? Is Rogers a definite target for Dallas? Or perhaps no nose tackle will be a target if Jay Ratliff is going to stay put?
Hat tip to ChiaCrack for his FanShot on this subject.