How is this happening for an eight-year veteran who entered the season with 16 career sacks and never had more than 4.5 in a season?
Hatcher, who has three sacks during the Cowboys’ two-game winning streak, credits defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli’s tutelage. Marinelli sees a man who is pushing to maximize his potential.
“I just think he has gone 100 miles an hour every day,” Marinelli said of Hatcher after Sunday’s 17-3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. “Got talent and the system really fits him well, that under-tackle position. And he has embraced it. There’s a lot of pressure in that position. Our standards are really high, and he’s playing at a high level.
“You never put ceilings on men. I always have the ability to take a ceiling off and see how far a man will grow, and he’s growing.”
The 6-foot-6, 299-pound Hatcher, who is having a career year in his contract year at the age of 31, has certainly caught the attention of opposing offensive coordinators. He was frequently double-teamed even before defensive end DeMarcus Ware strained his quadriceps, an injury that caused Ware to miss a game for the first time in his nine-year career. At this point, Hatcher is the primary focus of pass-protection schemes against the Cowboys.
“Oh, a lot more,” Marinelli said with a laugh when asked how much extra attention Hatcher is getting. “A lot more. He got a few guys looking at him today. It’s all part of it. He’s got to still produce.”
There isn’t a defensive tackle in the league producing more than Hatcher right now.