If you had asked me on December 7th what position the Dallas Cowboys were strongest at, the defensive line would have been one of top choices. They had solid young players who had developed over the years in Josh Brent and Sean Lissemore, and it was at this time where rookie Tyrone Crawford was starting to come on.
That young talent, coupled with solid veterans Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Jay Ratliff made for a really solid rotation. Kenyon Coleman was injured at this point and since this is the last year of his contract, he wasn’t in my sights when breaking down the Dallas defensive line.
In just six short weeks, the Cowboys depth and talent has taken a major hit because of two horrendous decisions by Brent and Ratliff. Couple these incidents with the Cowboys move to a new 4-3 alignment and their defensive line has suddenly become very thin. In fact, the defensive line has now become a big need in the off-season, and they need to address it through the draft or free-agency.
Before his incident, Brent had become a really solid player, someone I thought the Cowboys should have extended with a contract similar to the one they signed with Sean Lissemore. Brent’s blend of power, size and speed had actually made him very valuable player and a key contributor on the Dallas defense. He would have made an excellent fit in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense and now the Cowboys will likely be looking for another player with his skill set.
Ratliff, even though he is slowing down, still could play a valuable role for the Cowboys in the new alignment; some would say he’e actually a better fit in the 4-3 defense. He wouldn’t have to take on as many double teams in Kiffin’s defense and that would lessen the wear and tear on a body that has taken too much punishment over his career. I’d argue that he was a natural fit for the Cowboys new defense.
Two months ago this Cowboys defense looked very strong up front with a mixture of youth and veteran leadership, a group who played the game the right way, head coach Jason Garrett’s way. There were tough, physical and relentless workers on the field. That has all but disappeared thanks to two bad decisions by Ratliff and Brent.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending what they and I’m not trying to make it just about football, but I am explaining how their actions will affect the Cowboys. I firmly believe that both players should be cut and should never set foot on a field as a member of the Dallas Cowboys ever again. That much is clear to me and it should be clear to the Cowboys as well.
The Dallas Cowboys had exactly what they needed on their defensive line, but that was two months ago. The selfish decisions by Brent and Ratliff have not only embarrassed themselves and their organization off the field but they have also cost the Dallas Cowboys dearly on it.
Times change, and so have the Cowboys draft plans thanks to some irresponsible behavior.
you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi