Dallas Cowboys: A Healthy Sean Lee Could Pay Huge Dividends In 2015


Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee missed the entire 2014 season after sustaining a torn ACL in his left knee during the team’s OTA’s last spring. Lee is widely acknowledged as a leader among his teammates, having been named as a team captain for 2013. Unfortunately, he has also missed many games due to injury.

The Cowboys hope to change that trend this next season and beyond. Coaches moved Lee from middle linebacker to weakside linebacker, which should give him some extra protection (fewer blockers) and allow him to capitalize on his speed. Despite being 6’2″ and 229 pounds, he also runs the 40 at 4.71 seconds. Lee is quick for his size, no doubt.

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Former teammate Bruce Carter nicknamed him “General Lee”, and this certainly seems appropriate. When Lee is on the field, he takes charge. He is clearly a natural leader. The Cowboys and their fans are all anxious to see what he can do with a full season of play, especially with a shored-up defensive unit this year.

Last season, the Cowboys’ defense moved from the rock-bottom basement of the NFL for yards allowed to 19th in this category and 14th for points allowed. Adding Sean Lee back into the mix should improve their rankings, hopefully into a top ten squad. If they can build on last season’s performance, this could land them in Super Bowl 50.

Beyond the return of Lee, team owner Jerry Jones spent a good deal of effort in the offseason and draft to bring additional impact players on that side of the ball. Jones signed cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end Randy Gregory, and defensive lineman Greg Hardy, who was a record-setting sack leader with the Carolina Panthers.

Hardy is currently appealing a 10-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league, and his return to the field is also virtually certain to make a difference.

But Sean Lee is something special.

As a rookie, he made a big splash in the third game of his pro career. In early December 2010, the Cowboys defeated the Indianapolis Colts and then-quarterback Peyton Manning in overtime, 38-35.

Lee had his first two pro interceptions that day against Manning, including one which he returned for a touchdown and the other which set up the game-winning field goal. Lee added nine tackles and broke up two passes as well.

This resulted in being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, and it secured a place in our hearts.

When he is healthy, Lee is one of the toughest defenders in the NFL, and among the most productive as well. He seems to have a knack for being around the ball and his pursuit typically doesn’t stop until the play is blown dead.

Simply put, the Cowboys are a better team with Lee on the field, and they know it.

His statistics are exciting. Through 46 games, he has 294 combined tackles, or 6.39 per game. He also has 11 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries. This guy is almost invariably in the right place when it’s time to play.

Simply put, the Cowboys are a better team with Lee on the field, and they know it.

Defensive lineman Jeremy Mincey had this to say to NBCDFW.com of his teammate:

"“He is a very, very intelligent kid. He’s one of those guys that you want to have in your corner. It’s just great to have him out there. He is the team nerd. He knows everything on defense. I love that about him. If he doesn’t know something he asks a question. That’s the best way to get any kind of knowledge. That’s the type of kid he is. We all feed off him. He’s a great person.”"

There was more praise from coaches and from other players. Per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli referred to Lee as a “ball of energy and excitement”, while rookie Gregory spoke of Lee’s leadership on the practice field:

"“He knows what he’s talking about, I know that for sure. He’s a great leader for us. He’s definitely a guy I look to and I know a lot of other guys look to as far as feedback and advice for putting the best product out there on the field.”"

For a team that seems to be headed in the right direction on defense already, having this particular guy in uniform throughout the season could bring huge dividends.

Along with many other avid fans, I hope to see it happen.