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Jason Hatcher: Will He Force The Cowboys Into A Dilemma Next Offseason?

New defensive scheme, new position along the defensive line, so will it be a new kind of season for Jason Hatcher?


Jason Hatcher has been with the Dallas Cowboys for quite a while now. He was drafted way back in 2006 in the third round. Yes, that's long enough to be a Bill Parcells' pick. Hatcher had long served as a rotation-guy along the defensive line. Until the 2011 season he had only started one game. In 2011, he started 10 times and last year he started all 16 games. Obviously those starts were mostly as a 3-4 defensive end.

Last year, according to PFF grades, Hatcher had an outstanding year with an overall grade of +25.7 (+17.5 run, +10.1 pass). 2011 wasn't bad either with an overall grade of +9.3. So Hatcher was coming on even in the 3-4 scheme, he tallied 8.5 sacks in those two years

Now he's kicking inside as a defensive tackle in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. He's lined up most of the time as the 1-tech but also spent some time as the 3-tech in Jay Ratliff's absence. We could see him in both places this year. Yesterday, he apparently got a little fired up in practice.

Jason Hatcher unleashed some competitive fire when he drew an offside flag during the scrimmage. After arguing with the officials to no avail, he returned to the huddle in a bad mood. Several plays later, he blew up the line of scrimmage and sacked Tony Romo uncontested.

“Just staying on the small things,” Hatcher said. “Don’t let any of the small things creep in – like being lackadaisical or not running to the football. You can’t let that stuff leak in. We just have to keep our eyes open. When something comes up, we have to address it. If someone gets out of line, I’m going to try to do my part to help them get back into line.”

Bryan Broaddus noticed the same event, but also talked about Hatcher needing to sustain his good play throughout a game.

Defensive tackle, Jason Hatcher played with some purpose today. With Ratliff on the sideline, Hatcher took reps at the under tackle while Sean Lissemore played on the nose. Hatcher attacked Nate Livings today, several times getting pressure up the field but it was when he was drawn off sides on a Tony Romo hard count where he became a one man wrecking crew. Hatcher played with the power and quickness that we have seen from him before but this time he managed to sustain it throughout and finish the drive which is something that he had struggled with in the past. Hatcher under these defensive coaches, is playing like a man that wants to be more than just a situational player. There have been too many times in his career where he starts a game with some fire only to fade throughout. His work today could be more of what we see in the future.

Now, Hatcher is no spring chicken. As mentioned at the outset of this article, he was drafted in 2006. Next year, in the offseason, he'll turn 32. That's getting closer to old age in football terms. He also is playing on the final year of his contract.

If Hatcher excels in this new system where he will be attacking instead of read-and-reacting, it will set up the Cowboys with a dilemma. Do you sign a guy who will be 32 to a new contract, with the value of that contract almost certainly to be inflated if he's coming off a really good year?

So what do you think BTB? Will Hatcher excel in this new role? And if he does, will the Cowboys re-sign him?

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