3rd in a Series; Ten Most Important Bears in 2014.....Jeremiah Ratliff

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    The 10 Most Important Bears of 2014 - #8 Jeremiah Ratliff

    By Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.@wiltfongjr on Jul 10 2014, 1:00p 4
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    Jonathan Daniel


    For the 6th straight year, I'm bringing you whom I believe will be the ten most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season. Checking in at #8 is defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff.

    Early in his career Jeremiah Ratliff was one of the best interior defensive linemen in the game. From 2008-2011 he was selected to the Pro Bowl as a one gap nose tackle in Dallas' 3-4 defense. He suffered through a couple of injuries in the 2012 season that ultimately led the Cowboys releasing him the following year. He played five games with the Chicago Bears late last season, although he was never 100% healthy.
    All reports peg him as fully healed this off season and the 32 year old is ready for a big year.

    The Bears could really use Ratliff's nasty and tenacious play on the interior of their defense. Whether he spends the bulk of his time at the three technique defensive tackle -- where he is slated to start -- or gets some reps at NT, Ratliff has the pedigree to be an impact player in 2014.

    He'll need to be a rock at DT for the Bears with numerous question marks surrounding his position group. Nate Collins, who was playing arguably his best football last year, is coming off an injury. Stephen Paea, who has never lived up to his potential and is coming off his own injury plagued season, will be fighting for his second contract. And then there are the two rookie DTs, Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. While both have unique skill sets, expecting either of them to step in and play at a high level is asking too much.

    Jeremiah Ratliff has played at a high level and he's done it while playing at a position that wasn't suited to his strengths. Most NFL experts predicted a big year for him in 2013 once the Cowboys announced they were switching to a 4-3 defense. Unfortunately for him and the team, his injuries robbed him of a chance to play in Dallas' Tampa 2 4-3 scheme.

    The Bears gave the 10 year veteran a 2 year deal, so they are expecting him to bounce back from his injuries. They also expect him to help mentor the young defensive linemen on the Bears.

    "He understands the game," said defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, Ratliff's position coach in Dallas in 2010. "He knows how to practice. He knows how to work. He knows what the meeting room is like. He knows the tempo of practice and our tempo is pretty tough. So [Ratliff] has been through all that. He'll be a leader in that regard, and he'll be of great help to the younger guys."

    What are your expectations for Ratliff in 2014, and which DT do you expect to have the biggest impact?
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Man I could not agree with this more. Ratliff has the potential to be the biggest difference maker on the interior of that line. This guy is a "beast" of a NT and/or DT and one of the toughest meanest mother f'ers in the NFL when he's on his game.

    There's a good reason why Jerry Jones was pissed off when he joined the Bears after they released him. I think JJ was hoping to get out from under the big contract he'd given him and because of the injuries and the time he missed get him to re-sign for less and it backfired on him. Ratliff kept his bonus money and signed with the Bears for less. If he's even 90% of the player he was Phil made a smart move signing him last year and an even smarter move re-signing him for two more years for short money.

    He's another guy we badly need to provide some leadership with the other DTs and NTs. The guys has played both and at a Pro Bowl level so as Pasqualoni points out there's very little he doesn't know and understand about what it takes to be a top producer. He should be a help to all four of the others but especially to the rookies because he can play both NT and DT and help those two make a successful transition. It probably gonna take both of them to replace him in another two years.

    I'm far happier about the makeup of this DL than I have been in at least ten years and maybe longer. Emery brought in some studs and I like the rookie picks as well. Ferguson can get his feet wet slowly because he has guys like Ratliff and Paea to handle the starts and if Tucker is smart he'll use Collins in the rotation and then play Sutton mainly as a pass rusher to begin with. I'm looking at him to be the Tasmanian Devil from the old WB/Bugs Bunny cartoons. LOL

    But Ratliff is the key to tying it all together inside. He's the boss.
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  3. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    If we can just have a better year injury-wise, that will be huge this year. And that goes for Ratliff too. I know that injuries are part of the game, and we'll have our share this year like every year. But it sure would be great to have fewer injury woes this year. Ratliff will be a beast if he can stay healthy.
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  4. mdbearz

    mdbearz Veteran

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    Hard to judge a guy off only 5 games, but I guess his ability to prepare and be a team member was there even when he was still recovering. At 32 and coming off an injury I'm concerned that he is the d-line cornerstone.
  5. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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