Connect with us

Star Blog

LEEdership: 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee

It was just over two years ago that you were sitting at work, home, or scrolling along Twitter when your heart was blown to smithereens. Sean Lee, the stud linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, had torn his ACL. On the first day of OTAs. While being mauled by the team’s most recent 1st Round selection, Zack Martin. Ugh.

RJ Ochoa

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee

It was just over two years ago that you were sitting at work, home, or scrolling along Twitter when your heart was blown to smithereens.

Sean Lee, the stud linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, had torn his ACL. On the first day of OTAs. While being mauled by the team's most recent 1st Round selection, Zack Martin. Ugh.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee 1

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is helped off the field by head athletic trainer Jim Maurer, left, and associate athletic trainer Britt Brown, right, after suffering an unknown left leg injury during an NFL football organized team activity, Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) 05312014xALDIA

The news that Lee was out for the season stifled our hopes for 2014. How could a defense coming off one of the worst performances in NFL History have even one modicum of success now that its best player was gone for the year? Rod Marinelli answered that question on the way to a 12-4 record, NFC East Championship, and a playoff win to boot.

Dallas certainly missed Sean Lee throughout the season. Sure, they got some help from the freshly-traded-for Rolando McClain, but nobody is Sean Lee. "The General", as he's known to fans, still made an impact by patrolling the sidelines and holding his teammates accountable. He is, whether on the field or not, an unquestionable leader for the defense and this franchise.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee 2

Dec 21, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys injured linebacker Sean Lee on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Why is this relevant today? It's been over two years since that dark day and Sean Lee rebounded with a performance for the ages in 2015. He started 14 games (second most in his career) and finished with career highs in both tackles and sacks (76 and 2.5 respectively). Lee's 2015 season was in fact so spectacular that it culminated with his first ever Pro Bowl selection.

This is important to the loyal members of Cowboys Nation because our team is in a very similar situation with this year's 2nd Round selection - Jaylon Smith.

You're well aware of Jaylon's knee issue, granted not a torn ACL like Lee's, and of the risk involved with it. We've all heard Jerry Jones and Co. say with hopeful eyes that Jaylon could play in 2016. Personally I find that very unlikely, but the 2017 version of Jaylon Smith is going to be a nightmare for anyone who comes into contact with him.

My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin recently posed a question here on Inside The Star: Who Will Lead The Cowboys Defense in 2016?

//insidethestar.com/who-will-lead-the-cowboys-defense-in-2016/

He has some suggestions, Sean Lee among them, but I think that Jaylon Smith is a name worthy of consideration. Leadership is a trait well-ingrained to the former Notre Dame star who in fact served as a Team Captain for the Irish. All of these things boiled in a pot result in one thing that Jaylon needs to put into practice throughout the 2016 season - Leedership.

LEEdership

As he will very likely miss all of the upcoming season, Jaylon Smith needs to bust out Sean Lee's 2014 playbook. Jaylon needs to train like Lee did, study like Lee did, walk like Lee did... Jaylon Smith needs to be a carbon copy of the 2014 version of Sean Lee.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee 3

We all love Sean Lee, but everyone is willing to admit that Jaylon has more natural talent than The General. Imagine if young Jaylon winds up with the same work ethic and disposition as Lee? The possibilities are endless!

Jaylon Smith is not Sean Lee. I don't want to pretend that he is. What I do want is for the LEEdership that Sean has demonstrated to ripple into Jaylon. It's the "right kind of guy" approach that Jason Garrett preaches and it is quickly becoming the Cowboy Way among linebackers that suit up for America's Team.

Let's put these two together and have some fun.

What do you make of LEEdership? Is it something Jaylon Smith should put into practice? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "LEEdership: 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

Advertisement
Comments

Star Blog

What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 2

For many years, Linebacker Sean Lee has been the face of the Dallas Cowboys defense. However, that's quickly changing. The young duo consisting of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have taken over the linebacker position by dominating the field from sideline to sideline with their explosive talent. As a rookie, Vander Esch filled in for Lee at the weak linebacker position when the veteran went down injured and never gave the job back.

Currently, uncertainty surrounds Sean Lee, who took a pay cut earlier in the year to stay with the franchise he's played for since the beginning of his professional career in 2010. What will his role be in a young fueled defense in the upcoming season?

As we've all been able to see throughout his career, Sean Lee is one of the best in the game when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's not very often. His injury proneness led him to a position change years ago, when he was moved from the MIKE (middle linebacker) to the WILL (weak side linebacker) position. Now, those two spots are taken care of.

Where does this leaves Lee? The main question is whether or not he'll move to the strong side. Many question if this would be the correct call, given that he could be at even more risk of suffering yet another injury in a position that leads to more contact. The other option would be for him to be Vander Esch's backup at WILL.

Wish List for Dallas Cowboys 1st Preseason Game

Dallas Cowboys LBs Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee

Lately, it seems like the Cowboys will indeed move him to the strong-side. After all, it only makes sense to have your best three players on the field at the same time. On minicamp, the Cowboys have been playing the veteran at SAM, letting him get reps and grow comfortable in what seems to be his new job.

But even if Sean Lee starts lining up on the strong side, what can we expect from him next season? The way the NFL offenses operate now leads to teams sending their nickel packages to the field more often than not. For the Cowboys 4-3 defense, that means three cornerbacks, two linebackers. When that's the case, it will be Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who we see out there, not Lee.

Damien Wilson was the team's "starter" on the strong side, and he only managed to get 286 snaps, according to Pro Football Reference. That represents 28% of the team's total snaps. Even if Sean Lee becomes the starting strong side linebacker, we likely won't be seeing him as much.

Even still, I'd expect Sean Lee's experience to play a big factor when the team needs Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch to catch their breath. Lee could jump in and play a few snaps at any LB spot and do a good job at it.

After all, we can't forget that despite his injuries, Lee is a remarkable player on defense. He should still be one of the smartest linebackers with extraordinary instincts. There's a reason why, before Vander Esch arrived to America's Team, the defense crumbled without him. Last year, despite losing the starting gig, Lee still had 118 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and an interception. The longtime veteran can still play.

It will be odd for Cowboys Nation to watch Lee on a completely new role. It's also hard to put the finger on what his production will look like at the end of the year. If there's one thing we know though, is that the veteran will work hard every practice trying to get the most playing time he can. We should be excited about the team's top three linebackers.

Tell me what you think about "What Are Realistic Expectations for Cowboys LB Sean Lee?" 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!



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Dak Prescott Impresses, Draws Compliments All Minicamp Long

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Dak Prescott and Coaches Both to Blame for Cowboys Offensive Woes
James D. Smith via AP

Dak Prescott stood before the media Thursday in a Stetson Cowboy hat, answering questions about his upcoming contract extension.

“I’ve got my cowboy hat on, so I’m a Cowboy, we’ll say that.”

Prescott has cemented himself as the franchise quarterback of America's Team, and now it's time for the franchise to pay him like it. Set to earn roughly $34 million per year (according to recent rumors/reports), Prescott is going to be a very rich and comfortable man in the near future.

But, for now, he still plays under his fourth round rookie contract. You wouldn't be able to tell by watching him on the field, however. Though it was just minicamp, Prescott was impressive as ever over the last couple weeks of practice, earning praise from all levels within the organization.

Veteran Jason Witten complimented both Prescott's anticipation and accuracy, saying his throws have been "off the charts" at minicamp. Prescott himself said that this is the best he's felt since he's entered the league, and it certainly makes sense for this to be the case.

"Is it three years under my belt or just seeing defenses a whole lot more clear, being quicker and faster in everything I want to do, having great teammates around me? Who really knows the answer, but I feel great. I feel confident, and my teammates do, as well.” - Prescott to DallasCowboys.com

If Prescott was ever going to be comfortable, hungry, and ready to go, this is likely the time that it would happen. He has three relatively successful seasons under his belt, and ended 2018 on the best stretch of his career. He is the unquestioned starting quarterback for this team, and has the backing of every key decision maker in the building.

Prescott now has an offensive coordinator who he has not only worked closely with (in some capacity) since he entered the league in 2016, but is also being lauded for his creativity as an offensive mastermind. His quarterbacks coach, Jon Kitna, has been receiving similar praise for how he can coach up Prescott and get his footwork consistent, to help him "throw it through a Fruit Loop."

The time is now for Dak Prescott, and it's encouraging to see how he is responding to this increased pressure and responsibility. Then again we should have no doubt that he will respond positively, as he as throughout his entire young career.

Whenever faced with adversity, Prescott has answered the bell. Now he has all the supporters he needs, and just needs to prove them right.



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Does RB Ezekiel Elliott Have A Chance At NFL MVP?

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Ezekiel Elliott

Who is the Cowboys best player?

A question debated seemingly daily on social media, most fans seem to center their arguments around the same few names. Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Ezekiel Elliott.

As a running back, it's quite possible that Elliott is both the best of that bunch and the least important to the team's overall success. NFL.com's Adam Schein disagrees with the latter statement, however, placing Ezekiel Elliott among his top ten contenders for 2019 NFL MVP.

"I think the Cowboys are going to challenge for the Super Bowl in 2019 -- and I think Zeke fuels this team. When Elliott runs for 95-plus yards, the Cowboys are 19-4; when he falls below that benchmark, they're 9-8." - Adam Schein

Schein's prediction will no doubt make Cowboys Nation swoon, but does Elliott really have the opportunity to compete for an MVP award?

For one, this would require the Cowboys be among the best teams in the league this season. It's quite possible, as they did win 10 regular season and 1 playoff game a year ago, but it will have to happen once again for Elliott to be considered.

Next, Ezekiel Elliott would have to put up incredible numbers. Well, it's safe to assume this will likely be the case if condition one is met. Elliott is going to get a lot of opportunities to touch the ball each game, and finding himself among the league's rushing leaders has never been an issue for the young running back. Especially if the team has a lead and is running the ball to kill clock.

Even if both these conditions prove true, though, Elliott will still have trouble getting himself in the real MVP discussion. These awards tend to go to certain positions, and running back is not among that list. If Dallas has such a successful 2019, and their offense is clicking, it's more likely Dak Prescott will be the one contending for that MVP honor.

I know to some it sounds crazy, but Prescott will likely need to be closer to MVP level than Elliott if the Cowboys are to contend in the way Adam Schein suggests in his article.

So, likely, Schein should have named Prescott among his top ten MVP contenders, not Elliott.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending