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Can LB Sean Lee Save The Cowboys Defense?

Brian Martin

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Sean Lee Receives High Praise From Pro Football Focus

Defense. Defense. Defense. It has been the point of emphasis in all of the losses for the Dallas Cowboys so far this season and will continue to be so until things change. Things could finally be turning around for the Cowboys defense though now that nearly everyone is healthy and back from their suspensions. The return of Sean Lee should especially improve the performance of the Cowboys D.

The last two games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers have been especially tough for the Cowboys defense. Both games were in the grasp of the Cowboys, but the defense unfortunately wasn't able to hold up their end of the bargain. It's no coincidence that Sean Lee missed both of those contest due to injury.

In all honesty, it's a little scary to think that the Dallas Cowboys defense depends so heavily on a 31-year-old linebacker that has struggled to remain healthy his entire NFL career, and even college for that matter. But, there is no denying that the defense is an entirely different unit with Sean Lee in the lineup.

Luckily, the Dallas Cowboys bye week couldn't have possibly come at a better time. Sean Lee absolutely needed more time to recuperate from his hamstring injury and the bye week provided that. I believe he will be ready to go against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7, which is extremely good news for the Cowboys defense.

But, Sean Lee can't improve the performance of the defense alone. He is only one defender and it takes an entire unit doing their jobs to be successful. It's time for everybody to step up their game.

LB Anthony Hitchens

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Fortunately, the return of Anthony Hitchens last week will also help the Cowboys defense. He will move back to the middle linebacker position and be an upgrade over Jaylon Smith. Nothing against Smith, but he simply isn't ready to be depended on right now as a starter. But, he does show a lot of promise. He just needs more time.

All of the youth in the secondary really needs to step up as well. We have seen improvements and reason to believe they will see the field more on a regular basis. But, each and every one of them needs to become more consistent play after play.

And I don't know about you, but I'm hoping DeMarcus Lawrence can continue to dominate as a pass rusher. That not only helps the young secondary for the Cowboys, but the entire defense as well. He's on pace to break the all-time QB sack record, and I personally hope he reaches that goal.

There is reason to believe that the addition of Sean Lee will improve the overall play on the entire Dallas Cowboys defense, but I don't believe one player holds that much power. It is going to take a collective unit executing and playing together to improve. Fortunately, there is reason to believe they can do just that.

Do you believe Sean Lee can save the Cowboys defense?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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11 Comments
  • Wayne Young

    he won’t save the entire defense but he will help improve it dramatically, especially against the run. The numbers don’t lie, he is probably the best linebacker in the league against the Run. The last 2 weeks proves that. Plus, the Cowboys haven’t been healthy on the defensive side of the ball all year. Let’s see what they can finally do with everybody back.

    • Brian Martin

      Wayne, I completely agree. Sean Lee is certainly going to help improve things, but the entire defensive unit really needs to step up. Hopefully now that everybody is healthy and back from suspensions we see a much improved defense.

  • Hobbes49

    No question Lee returning is of major significance. He allows HItchens to go back to MLB and gives us our strongest LB potential. Two extra weeks should be good for everyone on the defense. The young DB’s get more practice time, Hitchens and Lee get back to speed, Irving gets more time under his belt. The other thing I hope for is continued growth, with less pressure from Jaylon Smith. Also, could these two weeks be a chance for Taco to work out some kinks and become more of a factor. I am also wishing for the staff to see the error of their ways and get Jeff Heath out of the starting line up. I would love to see more of Xavier Woods and Chido at the safety position. I wonder if maybe the two of them could be the future at safety and maybe Byron Jones goes back to CB. Maybe he would be better able to reach his potential there instead.

    • Brian Martin

      Everything you said is exactly why the bye week is so important. The only thing I really disagree with this moving Byron Jones to CB. I think people underrate what he does, but that’s understandable. He already plays a flex S/CB position. I think a lot of fans want to replace him because they don’t really see how making plays on the ball.

      • Hobbes49

        I don’t necessarily disagree with your opinion about Byron Jones. It is entirely possible if he gets a stronger partner to play with at the safety position that his playmaking abilities will become more apparent to us so I’m okay with him staying at safety. it was really just a thought about moving him to cornerback

        • Brian Martin

          You’re not off-base at all. Jones plays a flex position where he plays a lot of safety and corner. I think if the Cowboys could surround him with some more talent, we would see more of his playmaking ability

          • Michael Barthel

            I do not disagree with moving Jones to corner I think he is right. Jones plays better as a corner than he does safety. Also awuzie and woods at safety with Jones brown and lewis at corner would make a respectable secondary. Then Irving Collins and taco make a decent line to build off of. Smith Hitchens and Wilson make a very young and decent linebacking core. Dallas will draft a receiver but I think they go after safety linebacker and corner in the draft maybe defensive line as well. This is all considering Lawrence doesn’t come back

  • Russ_Te

    I always saw Jaylon Smith as an OLB at the pro level, and Lee a MLB. But I defer of course to what the coaches see. Lee is a wrecking ball when healthy as an OLB, no disputing that.

    This defense is weak at SS and I would – love – to see Smith try it. He had a long run in pursuit against the Rams, that really showed his straightline speed. I think it’s mostly back.

    If Smith can play SS, he would terrorize receivers.

    • Brian Martin

      When studying Smith, I saw a player that could play any LB position. I never really saw him as an SS though. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the player that I studied at Notre Dame yet. He’s not moving around well yet and is really struggling when he’s asked to play sideline to sideline. His straight-line speed looks like it’s back though. He just doesn’t look right to me and I’m hoping he just needs more time to recuperate/develop.

      • Russ_Te

        These position moves are always a dice roll. I remember the late 1980’s when Mark Tuinei was a DL’er under Landry. He got moved to LOT, I believe out of need. Then Jimmy Johnson turned him into one of the best LT’s.

        So I like speculating about it when there is a team need. Randy White, famously was drafted at LB size and his first year was an attempt at MLB. He never caught on to the job. So he bulked up in the offseason, moved to DT, now in the Hall.

        There was worry to start the year that Smith was being rushed into service. I’m not sure. I see the speed, but it might still be lateral movement problems, or MLB is not his spot.

        Assuming a full recovery, another issue is whether he should ever come out of the game. I want to use him in blitz packages, no matter if from LB, SS, wherever.

        • Brian Martin

          I believe Smith will still receive plenty of playing time. He needs to get on the field more to help with his development, but he’s simply not ready to receive starting repetitions. And you’re right, position moves are always a roll of the dice. I’m not against using Smith as a SS. I just don’t see the movement from him yet required to play the position. I personally would be surprised to see him line up as a DE in some passing situations. I think I’ve already seen him do that once this season.

Star Blog

Tony Romo Documentary in the Works

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Blog - 5 Most Heartbreaking Losses Of The Tony Romo Era

If you've missed seeing Tony Romo on the field, an upcoming documentary may be the cure. The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback is reportedly the subject of a film chronicling his football career going all the way back to high school.

"Now or Never" will tell Romo's incredible story, going from undrafted to one of the top passers in the history of the Cowboys' storied franchise. It's being produced by a Texas-based company run by Christian Hanna (no known relation to James).

According to an article from MyRacineCounty.com, Romo's hometown newspaper, the tale of Tony's football career will be told going back to his days at Burlington High School in Wisconsin. It will follow him to Eastern Illinois University, the same QB hotbed that more recently produced Jimmy Garoppolo.

But what most of us will want to relive is Tony's amazing NFL career, which stands out among the most unexpected rises to stardom of any player in league history.

Romo, who was an undrafted free agent signed by the Cowboys in 2003, didn't play in a game for three seasons. He rose the QB depth chart through practice and preseason play, eventually becoming the backup and earning the respect of then-coach Bill Parcells.

 - Tony Romo, #9

Former Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo

In Week 7 of 2006, Parcells pulled struggling starter Drew Bledsoe at halftime and went with his intriguing young prospect. Tony's first pass in the NFL was one to forget; an interception.

About a decade later, Romo would retire as the Cowboys' all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns. He currently ranks fourth all-time in NFL history for passer rating.

Tony's career never saw the playoff and Super Bowl success of predecessors Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, but he remains a beloved figure in team history. The controversial end to his football career, losing his job to rookie phenom Dak Prescott in 2016, created a major rift among Cowboys fans.

While no longer playing, Romo remains one of the hottest names in football. His charisma and football acumen have him in a featured role with CBS Broadcasting.

From obscurity to "anointing oil" to one of the most discussed names in sports, Tony Romo's story is fascinating. This documentary crew picked a great subject, and we look forward to enjoying their work and revisiting the Romo Era once the film is released.



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Star Blog

Prescott VS Wentz Rivalry is Just Beginning

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz Make Cowboys/Eagles Rivalry Great Again

No one expected Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott to become such an interesting rivalry, but that's precisely what the 2016's second and 135th draft picks have turnt out to be since the day they entered the NFL. The two came into the NFC East with very different expectations. Dak wasn't even supposed to be a starter, but circumstance is what helped this rivalry emerge.

Prescott seemed to lead the race after their rookie seasons were over, having led the Dallas Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the #1 seed in the NFC, but Carson Wentz made a huge statement in 2017. Before he went down injured playing versus the LA Rams last December, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was playing astonishingly well.

Leading the MVP race before tearing his ACL, Carson Wentz had thrown for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns through 13 games. Had he not gone down, it's more likely than not he would've been named the MVP instead of Tom Brady.

Despite having won the passing yards race, Dak Prescott's 2017 was rougher than his rival's. His interceptions count went from 4 in 2016 to 13 last season. He threw for only 22 touchdowns, falling eight short of the 30 TDs mark. His completion percentage also went down, from over 67% to almost 63%.

As we all know, it wasn't a good year for the Dallas Cowboys. Suspensions, injuries and poor play led them to a disappointing 9-7 season that didn't feel like a winning season at all, even though that's how it will go down in the books.

To make things worse, the Eagles went into January with QB Nick Foles starting, and overcoming adversity and doubters, won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Although it was Foles and not Wentz the one who played Philadelphia's postseason, the former second overall pick is one of the main reasons for the team's success.

His sophomore year was way better than Dak's.

But as impressive as Wentz's year was, the rivalry between the two signal-callers is just beginning. There is still a lot of history to write in this duel of two young and hard-working players. Two leader of men in one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL.

5 Points: Thoughts on the 2018 Dallas Cowboys Schedule 1

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (Tim Heitman / USA TODAY Sports)

Through two years of football, here's how their numbers look like:

Wentz: 29 games, 1,047 attempts, 644 completions (61.5%), 7,078 yards, 49 TDs, 2 rushing TDs

Prescott: 32 games, 949 attempts, 619 completions (65.2%), 6,991 yards, 45 TDs, 12 rushing TDs

There's not a ton of difference between their numbers, but in the NFL, it's about more than stats. Prescott had the better 2016, Wentz the better 2017.

Dak and Carson have really only played two match-ups in their two years playing in the league. Sitting at an even 1-1 record, 2018 will feature two great games between both of their teams. The defending Super Bowl Champions against the underestimated Dallas Cowboys.

The sport is about winning games and championships, but rivalries like this one make the NFL even more special. Even with Wentz being the MVP front-runner for most of last season, Dak Prescott still has a lot of time to turn things around.

If both turn out to be as successful and important as their franchise wish them to be, then this rivalry will be around for a lot of years.

Tell me what you think about "Prescott VS Wentz Rivalry is Just Beginning" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

If Reinstated, Is Randy Gregory A Lock for Cowboys 53-Man Roster?

Sean Martin

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Is It Time To Give Up On DE Randy Gregory?

The Dallas Cowboys will enter training camp in Oxnard with arguably their deepest and most talented defensive line in years. Cowboys Nation continues to hope for the best possible news on suspended Defensive End Randy Gregory, to potentially take this defensive front to the next level. Should Gregory be reinstated, the Cowboys would have another option at right defensive end. This is a position they've bolstered with the signing of Kony Ealy and drafting of Dorance Armstrong, both moves coming behind would-be starter Tyrone Crawford.

This logjam at DE begs the question, amidst optimism for Gregory's situation, is the 2015 second round pick even a lock to make this roster?

Who Does Randy Gregory Need to Outplay?

Going through some form of the Cowboys depth chart at Gregory's position above does little to sort out how Gregory can justify a starting position. Having true starters on the defensive line is not DC Rod Marinelli's way, meaning a possible rotation of Crawford, Gregory, and Armstrong could coexist.

If Reinstated, Is Randy Gregory A Lock for Cowboys 53-Man Roster?

Dallas Cowboys DE Tyrone Crawford, QB Dak Prescott

Even with insufficient depth at defensive tackle, the Cowboys seem committed to keeping Crawford on the edge. As he's done with each position change within the Cowboys defense, Crawford is slowly developing into a respectable right end that's great against the run.

This sounds like just the type of player to compliment a speedy rusher like Gregory, but Randy won't be alone in this role should he return to the team. Along with FA addition Kony Ealy, the Cowboys will look to bring Charles Tapper back from an offseason concussion, and also have second-year rusher Taco Charlton in need of a true position.

It's fair to say that Gregory has been anything but reliable since the Cowboys took a gamble on him, but turning his life around to see out this reinstatement would go a long way in beating out the often-injured Tapper.

Given Ealy's ability to play both on the edge and inside, at his best if receiving limited snaps, I believe that Gregory will only have to surpass Tapper in reaching a favorable spot on the Cowboys depth chart at DE.

Comparing Randy  Gregory and Dorance Armstrong

Of course, making the roster and making an impact on defense are two vastly different realities for Gregory in 2018. Another player that could stunt his opportunities to hunt down quarterbacks is rookie fourth round pick Dorance Armstrong.

If Reinstated, Is Randy Gregory A Lock for Cowboys 53-Man Roster? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE Dorance Armstong  (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Cowboys would love to see Armstrong begin his career with a strong showing in Oxnard, owning all of the traits needed to be an effective right end at the next level.

Lacking the true cornering speed that Gregory has flashed in short spurts, Armstrong did produce a ten sack season for Kansas in 2016. This production matches the traits that kept Armstrong a priority for the Cowboys at the draft, despite only seeing him get home 1.5 times in 2017.

Rewind to last year's draft, and the Cowboys spent their first round pick on a defensive end they looked to make a right end, all while knowing his ideal spot is at LDE. This makes the difference between drafting Charlton and Armstrong an important one, as the Cowboys are clearly searching for high-value options to complete their pass rush.

Again, assuming Tapper becomes the odd man out in the Cowboys carrying Gregory, Ealy, and Armstrong as right ends, the work is cut out for Gregory to regain the trust of his coaches and bring what only he can to this defense.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

It goes without saying that Randy Gregory will carry plenty of attention with him if present in Oxnard. This is a player capable of transforming a young Cowboys defense into one of the league's most feared.

While the Cowboys would do well to quickly sort out who plays the 3T-DT position alongside DeMarcus Lawrence, and the 1T inside for that matter too, sticking Gregory on the opposite edge could be the easiest decision they make to see immediate improvements in their pass rush.

Should Ealy or Armstrong have more to say about this lineup for the Cowboys defensive line, the depth of this unit will live up to the hype.

Tell us what you think about "If Reinstated, Is Randy Gregory A Lock for Cowboys 53-Man Roster?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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