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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

11 Comments

  1. Wayne Young

    October 13, 2017 at 8:04 am

    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

      Brian Martin

      October 13, 2017 at 9:28 am

      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.

  2. Hobbes49

    October 13, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    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

      Brian Martin

      October 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      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

        October 13, 2017 at 8:50 pm

        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

          Brian Martin

          October 13, 2017 at 9:09 pm

          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

            October 18, 2017 at 1:50 pm

            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

  3. Russ_Te

    October 13, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    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

      Brian Martin

      October 14, 2017 at 9:58 am

      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

        October 14, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        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

          Brian Martin

          October 15, 2017 at 9:38 am

          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.

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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