It’s no coincidence that the Dallas Cowboys defensive resurgence has coincided with the All-Pro level play of a healthy Sean Lee at weakside linebacker.
When talking about the Dallas Cowboys and rushing yardage, the obvious name the comes up is running back Ezekiel Elliott. And the number that comes up is 1,631 yards, Zeke’s league-leading rushing yardage total from last season.
But maybe the number Cowboys’ fans should be more proud of is 1,336 yards. That’s the total amount of rushing yardage the Dallas defense allowed last season. And it was the lowest in the NFL.
When thinking about the Cowboys’ defense, many first point to their lack of pass rush. After the events of the offseason, many will point out the free agency exodus of a majority of their secondary starters. And then mention Dallas’ subsequent defensive-heavy draft class.
But this is a Cowboys’ unit that held opponents to a league low 83.5 rushing yards per contest in 2016. And a majority of their front seven remains intact.
Although a load of the credit for this feat belongs to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and his scheme, there is one player that is vital to making it all work. And that’s two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Sean Lee.
"“Lee makes a living getting to a spot before an offensive lineman can even get their hands on him,” wrote Michael Renner for Pro Football Focus. “It’s a big part of the reason why he had the third best run stop percentage of any linebacker in the league a season ago. At a position that seems to be decreasing in value around the league at the moment, this defense wouldn’t work without him.”"
It’s no coincidence that the Cowboys’ defensive resurgence in Dallas has coincided with the All-Pro level play of a healthy Sean Lee. In the past two seasons alone, the 30-year old linebacker has recorded a total of 273 tackles, 2.5 sacks, six pass defends and an interception. The Dallas defense would simply not work as well without Lee in the lineup.