Before the 2013 season began for the Dallas Cowboys I predicted that Sean Lee would lead the NFL in tackles if he stayed healthy. The problem was, he didn’t stay healthy. Without a doubt Lee is one of the most instinctive players in Cowboys History. He doesn’t just play the game, he feels it. It is as natural to him as eating is to most of us. I think the absolute best example of how instinctive he really is came against the Washington Redskins on October 13th. The Redskins were in the redzone and they ran a Quarterback option. As the play developed the Center and the Running Back were both between Lee and the Redskins QB, Robert Griffin, better known as RG3 and 13. Against almost any other Linebacker in the NFL that is a sure fire Touchdown.
Sean Lee made a perfect read on when the Center was going to go low on him. He stepped deftly to one side and then squared himself and stopped Griffin short of the goal line. It was a truly fantastic play from a great player. He led the Cowboys with 4 Interceptions. In fact, when he went down to injury he was tied for the NFL lead. One of them he took back 74 yards for a near score. He did score on another. He defensed 6 other passes and recovered a fumble. Simply put he is a man always around the football and always making critical plays that change games.
The loss of Sean Lee for 5 games is what doomed the Cowboys in 2013. No doubt about it. With all of the myriad of injuries on the Defensive Line, he still was sharp enough to keep the overall game in hand with little help. Jason Hatcher was the Defensive MVP of the Cowboys in 2013, but if Sean lee had stayed healthy there is not a doubt in my mind that he would have been. It is very hard for me to give a top grade to an injured player, but I feel obligated to with Sean Lee. He is that good. I give him an A-. It would have been an A+ if he had stayed healthy and helped us win more games. Crucial, crucial piece of our puzzle in 2014. Sean Lee reminds me very much of Lee Roy Jordan. He just makes crucial plays at big moments.
Perhaps the most disappointing player in all of 2013 was Bruce Carter. I don’t know whether the switch to the 4-3 hurt him, he was hurt, or he just didn’t care. The fact is his play in 2013 at times hurt us. He looked lost in coverage. He played tentative several times when his athleticism might have made a difference. This is such a dichotomy from 2012 when he filled in for Sean Lee and was a star. Cowboys fans were rightfully excited to see what he could do after his stellar play before being injured in 2012. Cowboys fans are equally right to wonder if he is going to be a weak link in 2014.