Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Chicago Bears are exhausting all options to improve their extremely poor run defense. On Saturday, the Bears announced they had signed a one-year deal with three-time All-Pro defensive tackle Jay Ratliff. Dallas Cowboys fans likely remember Ratliff’s dominance during the late 2000s, but since making the Pro-Bowl in 2011, the defensive tackle was an afterthought in Big D.
Injuries forced Ratliff out of Dallas as the 32-year old suffered a groin injury last November, which eventually led to a sports hernia surgery the following month. Needless to say, Ratliff’s health and off-the-field issues forced the Cowboys to part ways with the once dominant defensive lineman.
Now, Ratliff has a new challenge ahead of him as the 292-pound will play in the Bears’ 4-3 defensive scheme for the first time in his career. Season-ending ACL injuries to Henry Melton and Nate Collilns have left a gaping hole on the Bears’ defensive front. And Ratliff’s job is to plug the hole. Another interesting fact is that, Ratliff agreed to a one-year deal with Chicago. Meanwhile, Melton doesn’t have a contract next season and his athletic build fits the 4-3 scheme perfectly.
With that being said, the Chicago defense has been so poor this year that Bears’ management could decide to change to the 3-4 defense if it deems Ratliff a game-changing tackle in the middle. Keep in mind that Melton is not the only Bears’ defender in the last year of his contract as Charles Tillman will also hit the free agent market this off-season.
While a switch to the 3-4 might not be imminent; the Ratliff signing really makes you wonder if the Bears are truly sold on the historic 4-3 scheme.