Sean Lee is one of the best linebackers in the entire league, and whenever he is not playing the Cowboys defense struggles as if it ceases to exit. But when he is out there on the field, he is a true leader, and even though Cowboys defense is far from being the best, he improves it significantly. Ever since he has come to the NFL from Penn State, Lee has struggled with injuries which are not too serious, but which put him off the tracks season after season.
In 2015, Lee managed to play 14 out of 16 games, and he was immediately named Pro Bowler. During the previous year, he played the entire season except for the last game, when almost all of the Cowboys starters rested and was selected a First-Team All-Pro. Lee was finally healthy and ready to help Dallas continuously. The fans believed it. Even Lee himself thought so too. But this is not entirely true.
So far in the season, Dallas played nine games, and Lee missed three already. To make matters worse, all of his three missed games, the Cowboys lost. But this is not all. Lee is likely going to miss the next couple of games as well, and with Lee on the bench, the America’s Team doesn’t stand a lot of chance. Plus, he got hurt at the beginning of a tough streak for the franchise.
Just to make it clear why Lee is so important for Dallas. With him on the field, the opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 85.6 whereas when he is out, the number increases to 107.8. Opposing rushing game also improves when Lee is sidelined, and it jumps from 3.5 to 5.5 yards per rushing attempt. This has happened before to the Cowboys with Tony Romo.
Romo was the main offensive guy, but unfortunately, he broke his collarbone in 2015 and Dallas’ season ended at that moment. They had no one to replace Romo, who made the Cowboys who they were. He was the heart and soul of the team. The same happens with Lee only on the defensive end. Dallas wanted to secure this position by drafting Jaylon Smith as a second-round pick, which sounded good in theory but it is completely different in practice.
However, there is a difference between Romo and Lee, as nobody doubts Lee’s game. But the problem is not that Lee is injured from time to time – the Cowboys are not prepared for that scenario, and they have no-one to fill his spot. They had a replacement for Romo in Dak Prescott who completely took over last year, but they don’t have one for Lee.
The Cowboys should have prepared for the scenario of Lee’s injury, and they didn’t. Now, the only thing they can do is hope that Lee will make it through.