Despite the fact he is on a new team with different players and coaches and a different base defensive scheme, Jason Hatcher says that he’ll dance with who brung him when the games start this fall.
There has been some concern because Hatcher recorded 11 sacks last year, more than twice as many as he had during any of his previous seven NFL seasons, while playing tackle in Dallas in their 4-3 defensive scheme. There is concern that Hatcher won’t be able to live up to his four-year, $27.5 million contract since he is moving to the line in Washington’s 3-4 defense.
But the Redskins lined up in something other than a true 3-4 much of the time last year and Hatcher is not concerned that the change in basic schemes will lead to a drop in production for him.
“They’re going to do a lot of stuff they did with me in Dallas,” said Hatcher. “They’re not going to take my strengths away, what I do to help this defense. Why would they have me do something else? I wouldn’t be here if they wouldn’t let me play to my strengths.”
Hatcher said that he has put his time with the Cowboys in the rear view mirror. “That’s long gone. This is my team, this is my home,” he said. “I thank God I’m here with a great group of guys who just want to win like I do. My days are numbered so I’m going to go out here and give it all I’ve got and the guys beside me are going to as well.”
The part about his days being numbered is a reference to his age; he will turn 32 next month. Turning that age, however, is not a sign that a pass rusher’s days are done. A player age 32 or older has recorded 10 sacks or more during a season 63 times since they started keeping track of sacks as a statistic in 1982. In fact, Robert Mathis of the Colts racked up 19.5 sacks just last year at age 32.
But Hatcher doesn’t have 10 or 19.5 or any other number of sacks set as a goal for this year. “I want to get as many as I can,” he said. “I want to break the NFL record, I don’t have a number in my head.”