The most important player on the Dallas Cowboys defense

Randy Gregory, Sean Lee Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Randy Gregory, Sean Lee Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Dallas Cowboys are lucky to have this veteran defender

The Dallas Cowboys defense turned it around the past two games. It comes as a shock to many since they showed us exactly how not to play defense from Weeks 2 through Week 7. Linebacker Sean Lee deserves his praise.

He began the season on injured reserve after having issues with his groin/pelvis and ultimately undergoing surgery on a hernia. It was terrible news for the team considering starting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was being held out with an injury as well.

Lee officially made his return in the Week 8 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. Ironically, that was the best defense the team played all season. It was also the first time since the Week 1 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams that the opposition scored fewer than 25 points.

It was the game against the Eagles that gave Cowboys fans hope that somehow the team can turn things around and make the playoffs in a weak NFC East. While the longtime Cowboy only played six percent of the defensive snaps that game, his impact was clear.

The Week 9 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers was another game where the defense played well. While it wasn’t as impressive as the week prior, they did hold the team to under 50 rushing yards. It was also the second consecutive game of preventing the opponent from scoring 25 points.

What made Sean Lee the great linebacker he has been over the years wasn’t being a highlight-reel player. Being a brilliant player that is also one of the most efficient tacklers made him great.

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The same football IQ that made him successful on the field is being taught to the players while Lee is on the sidelines and in practice. In some cases, even the coaches have to sit back and learn from the veteran.

Since he joined the Dallas Cowboys back in 2010, they have a record of 17-16 without him. That excludes the 2014 season when Lee missed the entire season and had a coaching role on the sidelines.

Some people don’t realize it, but Sean Lee is the most important player on the Dallas Cowboys defense. That’s why he led the team in tackles four times despite missing games in those seasons.

It’s also why he was a first-team All-Pro in 2016. Add in being the only Cowboys defensive player since DeMarcus Ware in 2011 to receive that honor.

I can’t see Dallas’ defense performing well without Lee. The Penn State product is the guy ensuring everyone else knows their assignment. He is also the one that can anticipate what the offense will throw at the defense and warn his teammates.

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When the time comes for the 10-season veteran to retire, owner Jerry Jones should think about retaining Sean Lee as a coach. I believe it will benefit the Dallas Cowboys a ton. It also rewards Lee for paying a physical toll for the team over the years.