John Mullin at csnchicago.com describes the changes along the defensive line that will accompany the arrival of new nose tackle Eddie Goldman:
“[Jeremiah] Ratliff, who did not attend last week’s voluntary minicamp sessions, is not expected to wind up at nose tackle after all. He can play the position. But because of his age (34 in August), size (305) and standing as the best pass rusher among the current defensive linemen, Ratliff projects to be at end where his rush skills can be put to maximum use, rather than hunkering down inside with a primary assignment of run stuffing.”
Mullin probably has the right of it. Even though he made the Pro Bowl at the position, I don’t think the Bears ever ideally wanted Ratliff as a nose tackle.
There’s a lot of talk about the defense being a hybrid and how it will do fine with linemen playing one gap – which is true. But as we watch the defense come together, the truth comes out. The Bears are going to prefer big two gapping linemen and will likely resort to those who play one gap in the base defense only when personnel makes it a necessary compromise.