Ratliff Excited About Bears DLine..............

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Jun 13, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    DT Jeremiah Ratliff excited to be talking the line
    17

    BY ADAM L. JAHNS Staff Reporter June 12, 2014 9:04PM

    [​IMG]
    Chicago Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (90) sprays water on his face during an NFL football practice in Lake Forest, Ill., Tuesday, May 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: OTKNH167


    The dog days of summer are good days for defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff. The extra work and sweat feel almost rejuvenating for the 10-year veteran. “It feels great,” Ratliff said. “It feels like it’s been a long time.”

    So goes the world of Ratliff, whom the Bears brought back on a two-year deal. It seems like a long time ago (at least in NFL years) that Ratliff was a great player, an All-Pro who single-handedly ate up offensive lines.
    Durability questions accompany Ratliff, who turns 33 on Aug. 29. He made just 10 starts over the last two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and Bears.

    “I was definitely eager to be here during this offseason and just try to participate in everything,” Ratliff said. “I just thank God that I’m back and I’m playing and I can just participate in [organized team activities] and offseason workouts and get stronger and better and get a closer relationship and understanding with all my teammates.”

    Ratliff was released by the Cowboys in October after his recovery from sports-hernia surgery in late 2012 turned into a lengthy and controversial one. (The Cowboys filed a grievance in March over the $40 million extension he signed in 2011.) Ratliff went more than a year without playing in a game.

    “This is the best that I’ve felt in a long time,” said Ratliff, who joined the Bears on Nov. 2 but still required weeks of training before making his debut Dec. 1 at Minnesota.

    “My running, moving full speed, my flexibility and everything is good. My strength is definitely on par and returning. I’m just looking for big things for myself and definitely our line and the team, as well.”
    On paper, the starting line of Ratliff, nose tackle Stephen Paea and ends Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston is a formidable one.

    “We’ve got a lot of veterans on the defensive line, and along with that comes high expectations,” Ratliff said. “We’re going to be up to the challenge. For the most part, we’re all on the same page. We’re learning each other’s play styles.

    “Everybody understands formations and protections. We’re really going to be able to really get after the passer and do a lot of things that other defensive lines can’t do. I don’t mean that as big talk, but it really just shows the expectations that we have for ourselves as a unit.”

    Success could hinge on Ratliff, who had 19 sacks over four consecutive Pro Bowl seasons from 2008 to ’11. With a new scheme being implemented, Ratliff, a former nose in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defense, won’t just be the Bears’ three-technique tackle. He hinted at having to handle multiple gaps. “We like the plan,” he said.

    Ratliff also will be required to help rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton. Ferguson admires Ratliff, saying he’s “one of the best noses to ever do it.”

    “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.”

    All of it starts with being on the field during OTAs. “I feel stronger this year and more comfortable with my team,” Ratliff said. “I’m just trying and looking to have my best year.”
  2. Blue Horse-shoe

    Blue Horse-shoe Veteran

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    " Sounds " good and I hope it pans out , but I'll believe it when I see it . How many times have we heard guys saying all the I'm feeling better stuff , who then don't do much . It happens across the league often .

    Still I hope he isn't blowing smoke - cuz when he's healthy he's damn good .
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  3. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I really don't think these post 30 vets are bs'ing. They seem truly glad to be able to play in Chicago and be a part of a winning team. Plus Emery was smart enough to sign or draft some young talent to surround them with so they can take some snaps off and maybe extend their careers a bit. They all seem to like the idea that in their final years they get to mentor the young guys like they were once mentored. It's really a nice mix of youth and experience they've put together. Almost scientific. LOL
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  4. Bearstuff

    Bearstuff Yes, in the woods. Staff Member SuperFan

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    With someone his age it really could go either way, but I'm optimistic that he will have significant impact on our season.
  5. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    True but the fact that he's played very little in the last two years and has had a chance to get 100% healthy I take as a good omen just as long as he can stay that way. If these guys keep their weight in check and keep themselves in top shape in the offseason I think they can play into their mid 30s these days.

    The conditioning they can take advantage of is just so much better than it was even a decade ago. Izzy is another guy who stays in great shape and I think can still bring it. They key is having enough depth to rotate these guys and not overplay them. Even Allen is gonna have to be content with playing fewer snaps than he's been playing.
  6. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    To me, it seems like that there is more to get excited about than even during the Rod years. New D-line coach, hand speed coach, vets with chemistry like Allen and Ratliff, guys with something to prove like Paea and Collins. Add in quality depth with Young and Izzy along with the rooks Ego, Sutton, and perhaps even Dunn and this could be a better line resurrection than the O-line last year. Not even counting for scheme, blitzing or anything else I can see this line rocketing up the charts and with enough depth to withstand injuries unlike last season.
  7. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I think a lot of this is Emery's doing. He's employing a lot more scientific methodologies these days than we ever saw come out a Bears front office before. I considered that stats guy he hired to develop better analytical tools and metrics to measure player performance by to be very leading edge for this team and this martial arts guy is another example of how he's fine tuning stuff.

    This is not your father's Oldsmobile. LOL

    I'm seeing a lot of stuff coming out of this team that I never saw before. I think Lovie and JA did a lot of flying by the seat of their pants. When did we ever hear Lovie ever give an analysis after a loss as thorough and analytical as Trestman does. It's an entirely different approach or at least it appears like that to me. If we're losing games I want coach whose trying to figure out exactly why besides those trite old "well we just didn't play well enough" or the "blah blah blah were really tough to day". They deserved to win.

    Screw that . I'm thinking more like jackie. WE'RE the only ones who deserve to win and we need to figure out how 100% of the time. That's what I see in Trestman that I never saw in Lovie. Old School vs New School.
  8. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    I agree this is more like running a business or a MFG Line. You have to plan Periodic Maintenance (PM) schedule so the equipment does not fail at an improptu time. Much like a car engine, you change the oil and check the coolant and brakes before you go on a trip.

    Emery is using commom logic to many to ensure as the equipment gets old or more likely to fail, that he has a plan B in place.

    Its more far reaching than this as opponents can be factored in as well at there skill positions and what they do well and the type of athlete they need to counter that. Sometimes you need a different skill set to counter the opposition. Thus we have a very versatilte and interchangeable D-Line that can counter many different situations with speed, size, and technique. Various blitz packages can be thrown in to help dictate what the offense should do in a situation, which allows a scheme to be in place to protect against it.

    These are exciting times and the use of various tools the team is deploying will bring us to a very competitive level for now and years to come. Hopefully that wil lead to some championship teams. I believe the Super Bowl requires a lot of skill to get there but once there it requires as much luck as skill. Both teams will have skill, but for a single game luck is just as important.
  9. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Yes he does and that's why it's not all that difficult to predict or project some of his moves if you follow his logic trail. He's not totally without emotion. In some ways he very human and not at all like a machine but when it comes down to making decisions regarding player personnel and coaches I see him as being a guy whose very cold and logical. He's not flying by the seat of his pant at all. There is no "boys club" around there any longer like there was with Lovie and some of his coaching and player personnel decisions.

    I think that's why Ted Phillips and George McCaskey are willing to trust him like they do and give him $$$ to operate with that they were far less comfortable doing with JA. When he wants the cash to make a move he's already laid out the whys and wherefores for them and they must make sense or he wouldn't get all of the yesses he's been getting. Hang just the cap, he's been committing the Bears (and McCaskey money) to a lot of big dollar contracts but along with Cliff Stein he's also be very adapt at putting back doors in all of them that mitigate the financial risk for the team down the road. Those two make a damn good team.

    Every move Emery has made hasn't necessarily been a good one (he's learning that as he goes) but they've all followed a certain kind of logic that makes perfect sense. It just takes a little time to step back and observe him in action to figure out what he's more likely to do when faced with some choices. This years offseason moves and how he drafted were far more predictable than those in the past not only because he's working his plan better but because you can see the patterns emerging. As far as the big things go he always has a Plan A, a Plan B, and a Plan C at the very least and he worked those this off season.

    For example. Michael Bennett was his Plan A DE signing but when that fell through he already had Houston's agent on the phone getting that deal wrapped up. No hesitation. When he let Pep go he knew he needed another DE who could play RDE because they really wanted to keep Houston on the left side just as they would have with Bennett. Willie Young was available and a steal for what we paid for him and worse case scenario he can platoon at RDE and we try to make a second good pass rusher out of Bass or Washington. But all the while he's still trolling for Allen behind the scenes waiting for his price to be established within a range he could afford.

    We knew he was up to something when they took advantage of the flexibility they built into Cutler's deal and freed up $5 mil for something and some of suspected it might be Allen but there was zip as far as the press speculating on that move so Uncle Phil did a damn good job of betting this hand. I always said I'd never want to play poker against the guy one on one. He'd clean my clock. He knew he still needed a bell cow pass rusher to replace Pep and he knew who he wanted so that was probably Plan C and after Plan A failed he scored on BOTH B and C.

    The draft worked out pretty much the same. If anyone who does a little soul searching is being honest with themselves they can probably see that if Donald is there then he won't pass on him. But he also alluded to the fact that he didn't expect that would happen and he was correct. Good intelligence work on the part of him and his scouts. In the meantime he'd brought both Fuller and Sutton in and based on the positive reports he heard about those visits they looked more and more like Plan B if Donald wasn't there. Greg Gabriel, the Bears old Director of College Scouting, called this one out weeks before the draft when he had Emery taking Fuller because he didn't believe Donald would last either. To me the only surprise was that we didn't take Sutton in two but again there's where good intelligence pays off. Emery had to know how other teams had Sutton graded and he must have felt pretty sure he'd still be there in three because we sure as hell needed a 3 tech DT like him and after Donald came Sutton as the next best.

    The other thing that became a little clearer after the drafting of Fuller is just how much that was slanted towards winning in our own division. I didn't realize we played and even started in nickel formations anywhere near as often as we did and without Urlacher patrolling that middle zone how much more dependent we had become on the NB/Slot CB and Safeties to take up that slack. Donald would have been a prize pick but the way we did it I think we killed two birds with one stone and made the overall defense better faster. If we'd have passed on Fuller it's unlikely we would have found another CB that good in rounds two or three buy we did find two pretty good DT prospects who should be able to at least contribute in the DT rotation. Especially Sutton if he can keep his weight I the 285-290lb range. He could be a little smaller version of Warren Sapp as far as creating some havoc and mounting a pass rush.

    The one other thing I've seen is that certain players he's signed or drafted do have some possibilities or being used in hybrid 3-4 type schemes if we start to use some and I think that's more of what Mel Tucker was after. Tucker may be far more creative than we think if he has the players and the assistant coaches to do that with and we did take some steps in that direction. I don't expect us to be playing a 3-4 anytime soon and maybe never but with guys like McClellin, Houston, Ferguson, Young, Bass and a few others like Bostic and maybe Jones we may be able to be more effective at showing some 3-4 looks to create some confusion. Emery's formula for defensive players seems far different than JA's.
  10. BSBEARS

    BSBEARS Pro-Bowler

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    Donald would have been nice, but I really like Fuller. Part of my pre-draft arguement was we could get another DT later, did not realize it would be Ferguson and Sutton(LOL I liked Quarles, who went undrafted. Heard Quarles got in a skirmish a week before the draft which dropped him but undrafted, still do not understand that one). Looking forward I believe Fuller will be a gem and we got some good DT's. Time will tell the difference between Donald and Sutton, but its a mute point now as Donald was not available.

    I fully expect next year Emery will spend a high pick again on CB. I suspect Tillman will retire or atleast yield his position to Fuller, requiring another CB sooner rather than later. Depending on when we draft I suspect it will be difficult to get a CB the caliber of Fuller. You never know though as Robie went at 28 or something so he may not be as good as Fuller but would still make a solid #3 near term and #2 long term CB. I am presuming Jennings will be around the duration of his 4 year contract. Even with Jennings and Fuller next year we will need the replacement for Tillman, maybe we have him in Frey or we may need another. Hopefully Tillman can stay healthy and have another solid year in him but getting another CB will be in Emery's plan. The nice thing is we will not have to reach for any particular position as it looks now. We will be able to slot 3 or 4 positions and take the best available when the pick comes.

    If we would have taken Donald its hard to say who we would have had at CB, but its probably safe to say we would be required next year to take one in rd 1 and potentially reach for them or else would have be required to spend big in FA for one of the highest paid defensive positions on the team. Since Donald was off the board before we picked its a mute point, but I do like the way it worked out.

    Depending on how Bostic and McC perform this year we may be pretty set at LB as well for the future. OTA reports indicate they both looked really good. Next year we will know what we have in Greene and UDFA LB's Jones and Lattimore. We may need a LB somewhere next year to replace Briggs if he retires or depth behind an existing player on the team. Same holds for the S position with Mundy, Conte, and Vereen. With S position it may be more quality depth and if you get lucky a starter, to early to tell. I suspect getting Lattimore to the PS will be telling for Emery's future plans.

    On Offense both Tackle positions will need to be addressed with an eye on the future and if we get an immediate starter at RT then great. Probably not a need at RT but Mills as a 5th round pick I have to believe is upgradeable, although he has done a great job. Same could be said about TE and OG, not needs but future starters if one is avail. Last but not least a QB early depending on how Clausen looks. Clausen may be the eventual heir apparent to Cutler, he was an early pick rd 2 and just a bad situation.

    The general theme here is all these potential positions are future needs and upgrades not requirements to fill a void. Frey is still at CB and did ok as a rookie and I fully expect continued improvement. Briggs replacement may be the only real requirement and we may have that too.. Emery has really done a nice job of putting together a solid team and in the future draft picks will be upgrades and depth. First rounders you would like to start thus an upgrade, after that if the 2nd rounder is rotational player for a year before he takes over then it just builds on the depth. Emery has worked hard to get the team to this point and on paper it shows well.

    I suspect there may be some situational players we could use like a change of pace back or a true NT and I suspect Emery has a plan for them as well. Yes Emery has a plan and it shows and it is making for the most optimism I have had in a long time.
  11. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    BS you and I were on the same page all off season about DB over DT. I was more on the S bandwagon, but don't have a real issue w/Fuller.

    Ego and Sutton were 2 guys I used as reasons the Bears could wait, just didn't expect to get both, but doing it that way did make me happy.

    getting Vareen later and hearing how well he's playing is just icing on the cake. The team going into the draft needed 2 DT's and 2 DB's, and they got just that.

    FA is what sealed the deal though, a complete revamp of the DL(minus Paea) was very needed and the amount they improved the talent up front for the money they spent was nothing short of amazing.

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