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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.