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Head, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes: Injuries Make Sean Lee Untrustworthy?

Brian Martin

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Has Sean Lee Become A Liability For Cowboys?

As an adolescent you were probably taught or at least heard the nursery rhyme/kids song "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes". It was meant to teach us not only parts of the human anatomy, but was probably taught as an exercise as well. But, for Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee, it could be used a roadmap of injuries he has sustained in his career.

Injuries of course are a part of the NFL or just about any other professional sport. But, it has been a big part of Sean Lee's career dating all the way back to his collegiate days at Penn State. Unfortunately, despite his immense talent, he has become extremely untrustworthy for the Dallas Cowboys.

You see, the defense for the Dallas Cowboys is pretty much built around Sean Lee. No one will argue that they are better when he is in the lineup, but are a dramatically different team when he's not on the field. He is that talented and makes that much of a difference. It's truly amazing how much the Cowboys depend on just one player.

Now, I could throw out all kinds of statistics of how the Cowboys defense plays when Sean Lee is in the lineup and when he's not. But, it's something that we already know, so why bother. Instead, I want to focus on his injuries and what the Dallas Cowboys can possibly do to keep him healthy.

LB Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

We all know that at some point Sean Lee is going to miss some time due to an injury. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's played an entire season in his NFL career. He has sustained multiple concussions, an ACL tear, a neck injury where there was ligament damage, plantar fascia tear in his foot, a fractured wrist, and a smorgasbord of hamstring injuries. Yet, we don't really hear the injury prone label attached to him.

It's way past time that the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff and their strength and conditioning program get together and figure out some way to keep Sean Lee on the field. If they're going to depend on him as much as they do to make their defense better, something needs to change and fast.

The Cowboys organization needs to cut back on Sean Lee's workload in practice. He has the heart of a Gladiator and wants to be out on the field as much as possible, but he doesn't really need the practice repetitions. He is arguably the most mentally prepared player day in and day out in the NFL. Practice repetitions don't mean squat to a vet player like him unless he isn't in shape.

LB Sean Lee

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Unfortunately, #50's body can't hold up to the workload. His heart is definitely in it, but the body just can't hold up the way he would like. We have seen it time after time. Sean Lee is going to sustain some kind of soft tissue injury. Resting him as much as possible in the off-season and in between games each week is really the only solution.

Who knows? It may be too late in Sean Lee's career to change things. But, that doesn't mean the Dallas Cowboys don't need to do everything in their power to keep him on the field. They don't have his replacement currently on the roster, probably making it a top priority the 2018 NFL Draft.

One thing is for sure though. The sad truth is, Sean Lee is simply untrustworthy to be relied upon like the Dallas Cowboys do. It's time some serious changes are made one way or another.

Do you think Sean Lee is untrustworthy?



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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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Travis Diggs

    November 17, 2017 at 7:50 am

    How long are we going to base our defenses success on Sean Lee’s health???Every team deals with injuries but one injury to this defense and EVERYBODY looks lost. This isnt the case for other defenses, only the cowboys. The Panthers & Kuechly, Texans & Watt, and etc. These other defenses keep it moving, but not the boys. They lose Sean Lee and NOBODY seems to step up, its sad to watch

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 17, 2017 at 9:17 am

      I think it’s a depth issue to be honest. I think Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens are really the only two starting caliber LBs on the roster right now. Unfortunately, it’s like that at several positions.

  2. BeirutWedding

    November 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

    I disagree that Sean Lee isn’t regarded as injury prone. I think everybody thinks that and has thought that. Last year, he was held out of the last game to prevent injury. The problem is, as said above, why — years later — is the defense so wholly dependent on him? I heard Broaddus tell a caller why were they calling him injury-prone when he played all of last year. For myself, I can say I was worried BECAUSE he was healthy all last year. There’s no way he was going to make it through another season injury free. So then, your defense is depending on the health of Sean Lee…and Jaylon Smith. What kind of sense does that make? And frankly, not just there? Why fired the line fall apart when Smith’s not there? Why can’t they run without Zeke? It starts to come down to coaching.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      I guess what I meant by Sean Lee not being regarded as injury from is he doesn’t receive the same kind of flack like Tony Romo for instance. But, it is what it is.

      Coaching is definitely a problem, but the Cowboys have also failed to have the proper depth at nearly every position to survive injuries. Take Tyron Smith’s injury for instance. The Eagles lost their starting LT and are still surviving with a backup. The Cowboys on the other hand were depending on an injury prone Chaz Green as a fill-in. He’s filled in before and done an adequate job, but his play last week against the Falcons was pathetic.

      • BeirutWedding

        November 17, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        Hm, for me, that’s what I mean. The lack of depth is a coaching problem. Either the next level guys aren’t being coached up properly or the guy’s their bringing in or keeping aren’t the right guys to keep. But I feel like it sounds like we’re arguing when we’re actually agreeing.

        • Brian Martin

          Brian Martin

          November 17, 2017 at 1:42 pm

          Agreed LOL

  3. Hobbes49

    November 17, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Anthony Hitchens claims he is ready to take the next step now that Lee is out again. Hopefully he can do it. I agree with Travis, how can this defense go from potentially devastating to totally incompetent because of one man down. It’s an embarrassment to be honest. I feel bad for Jaylon Smith, cause he is trying, but he is clearly a year or two away from being at his best. The injuries to Lee are frequent and it’s going to get worse as he gets older. It is time to at lease start considering who his eventual replacement will be. If Hitchens really flashes in the next few games, the Cowboys should consider splitting time between the two in the future to get this team ready to say good bye to Lee. It pains me to say it, because he is an awesome player, but the reality is he is not really reliable due to his injury history. Sad, but true.

    • Brian Martin

      Brian Martin

      November 17, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Anthony Hitchens has played really well and I’m hoping he’s able to step up his game. Smith just isn’t trusting what he sees. Physically I think he’s capable, but I’ve seen him out of position a lot. I think he will be fine in time though. And I think the Cowboys absolutely have to try to re-sign Hitchens. I don’t think Sean Lee is going anywhere anytime soon, but they definitely need to upgrade the LB position.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Offseason Preview: Linebacker

Jess Haynie

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Wolf Hunter: Leighton Vander Esch's Pass Coverage Skills Rising to Occasion

One of the brightest spots on the Dallas Cowboys' projected 2019 roster is linebacker. The young pair of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have already emerged as one of the league's best duos. But that doesn't mean that the Cowboys have no work to do at the position this offseason.

Having Jaylon and Leighton does take a lot of pressure off. Most teams utilize their nickel scheme more than any other these days, which generally utilizes just two linebackers, in the increasingly pass-focused NFL. And thankfully, both Smith and Vander Esch have shown great skills in pass defense.

But there's still a semi-starting role to get figured out in the base 4-3 scheme. Damien Wilson has held the strong-side or "SAM" position for the last few years and has an expiring contract.

What's more, Dallas has a big decision to make regarding the contract of Sean Lee, which is ripe for terminating with $7 million in salary cap savings possible.

It's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would keep both Lee and Wilson. If they decide to re-sign Damien, Lee will be cut to help fund that move and others. If Sean is kept on, Wilson will almost surely be looking for a starting role somewhere else in free agency.

Even if the Cowboys do make Lee a cap casualty between now and March 13th, they may still allow Wilson to test free agency and then try to re-sign him later at a discount. He's unlikely to attract the same attention that Anthony Hitchens got last year.

How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Cowboys' 2019 Plans?

Dallas Cowboys LB Joe Thomas (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Another factor in all of this is Joe Thomas, a free agent addition last year who provided good depth and could potentially start in 2019. He is scheduled to count $2.2 million against the cap, which is fine for a primary reserve but a bargain for an occasional starter.

A core of Smith, Thomas, and Vander Esch gives the Cowboys a good foundation to build from. Smith can play the SAM in the base scheme and Thomas can be the primary backup to Jaylon and Leighton in the nickel.

However, going that route would deplete the depth chart. Chris Covington, a sixth-round pick last year, would be the only noteworthy player under contract. Dallas would need to find at least two more guys to fill out the group for 2019.

They could look at re-signing backup Justin March-Lillard, who would at least bring some familiarity and veteran experience. But that might still leave them looking for more of a primary reserve, which would be especially vital if Thomas is promoted to a starting role.

The projected LB free agent pool for 2019 should make it a buyer's market. Dallas may be able to re-sign Damien Wilson or even add an upgrade, like perhaps the Vikings' Anthony Barr, at a relative bargain. There should be ample options for depth as well.

Barring an extremely favorable value opportunity, don't expect the Cowboys to spend a significant draft pick at linebacker. The fourth-round is the earliest I could see one going based on other needs, and even then it would need to be someone they really like.

Good drafting is why Dallas has flexibility and leverage this offseason. The picks they invested in Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch appear to have made LB a strength of the team for the next several years.

There is still business to attend to, but the Cowboys won't have to be too concerned with linebacker in 2019 thanks to their young stars.



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Dallas Cowboys

Xavier Woods Versatility Key in Dallas Cowboys FA Safety Pursuit

John Williams

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Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods Is Getting Better By The Week

There has been a debate going on among Cowboys Nation for more than a year now about the prospects of bringing in Seattle Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas. Now with free agency approaching, there are several other names that the Dallas Cowboys could consider when looking to upgrade the safety position. Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston are several of the many quality and really good safeties that are hitting the free agent market in a few weeks. It's a group with varied skill sets and abilities, which makes the debate even more interesting. The Dallas Cowboys, however, will be able to take a look at all of them when free agency opens March 13th because of one player; Xavier Woods.

Xavier Woods, the Cowboys fifth round draft pick from the 2017 NFL Draft just finished his first full season as a starter for the Cowboys and played really well. In two years he's shown the ability to cover from the slot, play deep, play in the box, be a force over the middle, and make plays on the football. He's one of the more versatile players on the defense with his ability to play all over the field. That versatility allows the Dallas Cowboys' front office an advantage when approaching the names mentioned above.

The Dallas Cowboys don't have to be locked in to one particular type of safety. When people talk about Landon Collins, they label him a "box safety." Earl Thomas is a traditional free safety. Tre Boston is a similar player to Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu is like Collins. The Cowboys can go into free agency with the freedom to explore their options and do their due diligence when it comes to these players.

That's a distinct difference from this offseason to last.

Last offseason, the feeling was that the Dallas Cowboys had to go get Earl Thomas. The safety position was so weak that the Cowboys were going to be playing at a disadvantage in the high-flying, pass-heavy NFL. Xavier Woods proved in his first full season that he can be a productive, play making starter in the NFL and should only continue to improve.

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier Woods was sixth in the NFL in passer rating against among safeties with at least 352 coverage snaps. His 62.8 passer rating allowed in his coverage was tied with Eric Weddle, better than Derwin James, Reshad Jones, Adrian Amos, and Maliek Hooker. Of the safeties drafted in the 2017 draft class, only Eddie Jackson from the Chicago Bears had a better passer rating against than Xavier Woods.

The Dallas Cowboys got a really good player in Xavier Woods and as they get ready to potentially make a run at a big name safety, they can feel confident that whoever they end up signing will be a good fit with Woods. He can play in the box or cover receivers and tight ends. You can run more two deep safety looks, because he has the range to play it.

This year, as opposed to last, they have more certainty at the safety position because of Xavier Woods and the strides he took in 2018. There's no reason to believe that he can't continue to take a step forward for the Dallas Cowboys. His ability to play all over the field allows the Cowboys to be smart and patient in their pursuit of a safety upgrade this offseason.



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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

John Williams

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3 Free Agent Targets From Cowboys NFC East Rivals

The free agency period in the NFL will be here in a little more than three weeks and the Dallas Cowboys will begin the annual tradition of trying to put together the best 53-man roster that they can come up with. Free agency is just one part of the equation that includes the draft, the signing of undrafted free agents, adding and subtracting from the roster during training camp, and picking up players after the final cut down day.

You can rest assured that Will McClay and the entire pro scouting department is doing their due diligence in anticipation of the March 13th start to the 2019 free agency period. They'll look high and low for players that can come in and be contributors for the Cowboys. Even within their own division.

Between the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins, there are some interesting names to consider as the Cowboys peruse the free agent aisles of the NFL superstore. Some of those players like Landon Collins, Ronald Darby, Nick Foles, and Brandon Graham will be new releases that will cost you a pretty penny at the check out stand. Others like Haloti Ngata will be in the used and refurbished section. And then there are those who could be had at a reasonable or discounted rate.

Here are three from within the NFC East that the Cowboys could have their eye on.

Mario Edwards, Defensive Line, New York Giants

The former Oakland Raiders second round pick out of Florida State University has already played for two teams in his young four-year career. That isn't a good sign for Mario Edwards as he approaches free agency for the first time. You don't generally see many top 100 picks get released from the team that originally drafted as they usually wait as long as they can to see if the player is going to hit.

For Mario Edwards, he found himself caught in a numbers game and outplayed by two rookies in Oakland's training camp in 2018, leading to his release. It also sounds like the Raiders couldn't quite figure out where to put him on their defensive line.

We know that the Dallas Cowboys love looking around the league for those reclamation projects. Edwards could be the next David Irving or Antwaun Woods. A player that isn't highly thought of, but in the right situation and with the right coaching could flourish.

Edwards has played 14 or more games in three of his first four seasons, missing his second season with a hip injury. He totaled more than two sacks a season in those three seasons. He isn't by any stretch of the imagination someone who is going to come in and replace DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory, but he could be a nice depth piece with potential to see significant snaps both at defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle.

Edwards could be the next Rod Marinelli special.

Jordan Matthews, Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a slot wide receiver this offseason if Cole Beasley is allowed to walk in free agency, which seems like a near certainty. There are several intriguing options on the roster in Allen Hurns and Cedric Wilson that could play in the slot some, or play on the outside allowing Amari Cooper to play in the slot. They could also look to the draft for Beasley's replacement as well. In the free agent pool, there are several interesting names, one of which is Jordan Matthews.

Jordan Matthews just finished his second stint in Philadelphia and while he didn't have huge production in Philly in 2018 -- 20 receptions on 28 targets for 300 yards and two touchdowns, he's a player with a track record in the NFL and could be a "big slot" option.

In Matthews first three seasons in the NFL, he averaged 75 receptions on 115 targets for 891 yards and 6.3 touchdowns in his first stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2014, Matthews caught 64 of his 67 receptions from the slot, which was second in the NFL that season. In 2015, he led the NFL in receptions from the slot with 81, while also scoring eight touchdowns. In 2016, his final year with the Eagles, he was ninth in the NFL with 53 receptions. So, in those first three seasons in the league, he averaged 67 receptions, 796.3 yards, and six touchdowns. He caught eight touchdowns in each of his first two seasons for the Eagles in the slot.

He's not the same player that Cole Beasley is, but he's a player that knows how to win in the slot and because of the past couple of years could be a cheaper option to try and replace Cole's production.

Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins

If Jordan Matthews is the inexpensive option for the Dallas Cowboys in the slot, Jamison Crowder would require paying a pretty penny. Spotrac.com estimates that Crowder could be worth $8 million per year over four years on the open market.

Interestingly enough, he's never been as productive as Cole Beasley or Jordan Matthews, but because of his age and his work the last couple of seasons, injuries not withstanding, he's seen in a more positive light than Matthews.

Crowder is cut from a similar cloth as Beasley. Smaller in stature and uses quickness and speed to win games. As Cowboys fans, we know all to well the effect that he has in game. Crowder, however, has never had more than 66 receptions in a season and has only scored more than three touchdowns once in his four seasons in the NFL; back in 2016 when he scored seven.

Crowder is coming off of an injury this season that limited him to just nine games, 29 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. In his three full seasons prior to 2018, Crowder averaged 64 receptions on 93 targets for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

If for some reason, his market comes in less than the $8 million per year that Spotrac.com is projecting, I'd be very interested in bringing Crowder to Dallas.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Each of these guys offers something intriguing that the Dallas Cowboys could use. Whether it's a defensive lineman or a slot wide receiver, they all bring something to the table. The Dallas Cowboys need to approach this offseason with a "go for it" mentality, but if they continue to follow their free agency philosophy, Mario Edwards and Jordan Matthews could be nice pieces to add to the team that offer a lot of upside.



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