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Mailbag: Should Ratliff Switch To Defensive End?
Over the last two years, Ratliff's body has been taking a pounding. I’m not saying he’s done, but wouldn’t it be wiser to move him to defensive end?
Rowan: It’s a move that should be considered, but it’s still unknown at this point when Ratliff can play at all. Let’s make sure he can get on the field before thinking about the switch, but once he does that, I think the switch is worth a look. Josh Brent hasn’t been flawless, but he’s at least making a few plays in the middle. Too often the ends in the 3-4 are getting pushed out on running plays, and they haven’t generated consistent pressure on the quarterback.
Jonny: I also worry about the health of Ratliff. It's starting to feel like any time he plays a game you just assume he won't be healthy enough to play the next one. Unfortunately I would worry that he just wouldn't be as effective playing defensive end. I just don't know that he is quick enough to play the position and have as much of an impact on the game. It might be worth giving him a couple snaps there just to try it out.
RICHFIELD SPRINGS, NY
Why not use more screens and draws? The running game would be more effective if the offense could keep the defense on their heels by using draws and screens. Even if they’re not good at them, the defense has to think about them.
Rowan: The draw play used to be a staple of this Cowboys offense, and Romo is one of the better quarterbacks at making the necessary fake. The problem with both the screens and the draws is they need time to make their blocks. It’s no mystery the offensive line hasn’t played well this season, particularly opening holes in the running game. The extra time it takes for a draw to develop might allow defensive linemen to meet the running back in the backfield. They tried one against the Eagles and it didn’t work well, as the offensive linemen couldn’t get out in time. I’m still for trying a screen pass against a stout Bengals pass rush.
Jonny: I agree that draws are a great way to keep a defense honest, but my best guess on why they aren't used as much is because they don't trust their blocking. A draw needs a few seconds to develop and if the defensive end gets in there quickly enough all of sudden it's a three or four yard loss. The same goes for screen passes to running backs. I would expect to see a few more screens to Dez Bryant going forward. The past few weeks it has taken Romo and Bryant a few quarters to get their chemistry going and then their nearly unstoppable. Screen passes would be a good way to get Bryant involved early in the game.