Cowboys linebacker combo starting to come to life


Through all the doom and gloom following the Dallas Cowboys latest defeat, this Cowboys starting linebacker duo is actually starting to jell.

2015 was supposed to be the Dallas Cowboys year to go all the way. Instead, it’s become a race to get the best draft selection possible in  2016. Despite all the doom and gloom following the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day massacre at the hands of the undefeated Carolina Panthers, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The starting linebacker duo of Sean Lee and Rolando McClain  is really starting to come together.

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This matchup made in Cowboys heaven has certainly had it’s setbacks this season. Following an offseason knee scope, McClain was suspended for the first four games of the year due to violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

In his absence, Lee elevated his play, starting at weakside linebacker for the first time in his six-year career. In those first four games, the veteran linebacker recorded a total of 36 tackles. Lee also recorded his only sack and interception of the season in that span.

When McClain finally made his debut in Week Five against the New England Patriots, he did so with a bang. The twice-retired 26-year old  recorded eight total tackles and his only sack of the season against the Pats. Following that initial surge of energy, McClain struggled to find his footing in the following weeks. Lee also had a dip in his play during this time, as the two linebackers had never once played with each other prior to this season.

Actually McClain was traded for in July of 2014 in part to replace Lee, who had suffered a season-ending knee injury two months prior during the Cowboys offseason workout program.

But the linebacker duo started to come alive a bit last weekend when McClain recorded his first pick six as a Cowboy, which helped Dallas obtain their first victory in the last eight games. And on Thursday, a Thanksgiving Day matchup against the 10-0 Panthers, both McClain and Lee brought their “A” game.

"“Make that back-to-back games where both Rolando McClain and Sean Lee played well together. The stat sheet shows that they were first and second in tackles for the game,” former scout and current analyst Bryan Broaddus wrote on the team’s official site on Friday. “I wrote earlier about defending Newton and this zone-read scheme. A lot of that was on the play of the defensive ends, but McClain and Lee had to play downhill and fill on a lot of those runs. The fact that they were able to do so was encouraging.”"

Officially, McClain led the team in tackles against the Panthers with 12. Lee was right behind him with 11 of his own. Both had one pass  defended in coverage as well. And according to Pro Football Focus, they were the best Cowboy defenders on the field Thursday.

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Amid all the doom and gloom of the Cowboys season, these two linebackers are starting to learn how to be effective together. And that should be something to watch and enjoy as the year progresses.