Dallas Cowboys' Jay Ratliff Might Struggle Next Season

Jack WindhamAnalyst IFebruary 13, 2011

Jay Ratliff
Jay RatliffLarry French/Getty Images

Jay Ratliff might not make it back to the Pro Bowl next year.

The 29-year-old is being asked to play an entirely different role for the Dallas Cowboys next year.

New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is bringing with him a different version of the 3-4 defense. It's a version that might not be suited for Ratliff and his set of skills.

First and foremost, Ratliff will most likely be asked to shift from nose guard to defensive end. His 6'4", 305-pound frame fits in Wade Phillips' system, but he's not big enough to fill the role in Ryan's system. The new system prefers having three massive defensive linemen.

The new system is also going to require Ratliff to line up directly over the offensive tackle. There's a huge difference going up against those guys than going up against guards and centers. Offensive tackles are usually bigger and better blockers than their interior counterparts.

Another change that Ratliff is going to have to adjust to is responsibilities. With Phillips, he was responsible for one gap, which meant that he had freedom to penetrate into the backfield. Under Ryan, though, Ratliff is being asked to hold his ground and cover two gaps. Containment and run stopping are going to become his main priorities.

Ratliff loves to prove people wrong. He's also a very talented individual. However, it can be pretty difficult adjusting to an entirely new job.