Like one of his punishing sacks, Cowboys defensive lineman Jason Hatcher says he was impacted by former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's firing.
"I was hurt a little bit," said Hatcher, "not knowing it was coming."
During our one-on-one interview, I asked the 7-year veteran what caused that hurt. "Just from a guy that came in and believed in me and gave me a chance to show what kind of player I can be."
Hatcher says he understands this is how the business works, but thinks Ryan did a good job, given the circumstances. "I think we played our best for him I think he did did a great job with what he had - 6 starters going down. He did the best with what he had."
Hatcher came of age under Ryan, starting on the defensive line the last two seasons. He's notched 8 and-a-half sacks over that period. Now that Ryan is out, and Monte Kiffin is in, Hatcher who will be entering his 8th year in the league, will play for his 6th different defensive coordinator.
Its not the sort of high turnover rate the Cowboys defense is looking for, so I asked about some of the challenges involved with having yet another new voice lead the group. "First you've got to develop the trust, so you can trust he's going to put you in the right position to make player and he's going to call the right plays," said Hatcher.
Hatcher added because of the skins Kiffin has on the wall, most notable a Super Bowl 37 victory over Oakland, the respect and trust factor for Kiffin is already high.
Meanwhile, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has kept his promise to make things uncomfortable at Valley Ranch in the wake of Ryan's dismissal, but Hatcher says by the time off-season workouts begin, he hopes there's a different vibe at work. "I think its hard to perform under that kind of pressure," he said.
"I don't think its the players fault. If it is, some of those players are going to be gone. If they're the problem, they'll be gone. Eliminate those players and don't let the pressure come down on us. We don't need that we just need to play football."
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