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Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year?

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year? 4

It really is amazing that Tim Lincecum has ever thrown a pitch without it being intercepted by Sean Lee.

Allow me to explain.

On Sunday evening the Pro Bowl for the 2015 NFL season took place. The starting quarterback for "Team Rice" was Eli Manning. Our favorite awkward face'd Giant tossed a pass that was tipped and fell right into the arms of Sean Lee.

Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year?

As if it wasn't symbolic enough that the Dallas Cowboys trump the New York Giants, the residents of the Big Apple just couldn't leave Hawaii without embarrassing themselves just a little but further.

On a fake extra point, this is the Pro Bowl to be fair, Team Rice Kicker Josh Brown (another proud New York Giant) did his best Eli impersonation... literally.

Josh showed the world why his involvement with professional football revolves around the body part as far away from his arm as possible when he went full Eli and threw an interception to Sean Lee.

Lesson of the day? Sean Lee will intercept any Giant: New York, San Francisco, fictional, whatever. He owns them.

Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year? 1

Sean Lee owned a lot of people in 2015. He set a career high in tackles with 76 and, despite an "always injured" reputation, started 14 games for the Dallas Cowboys.

Oh and he did all of that after missing the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL (hence the reputation).

"The General" put an exclamation point on his 2015 with his Double Giant Interception (we call that a DGI here at ITS, my name is RJ so I like acronyms a lot...) in the Pro Bowl, but it was no anomaly for the season. Sean's performance merits some serious consideration for an award that is literally designated for players who have a great year after some type of trial... the NFL's Comeback Player Of The Year.

Now the overwhelming favorite to win the CPOY is Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs. Berry battled his way back onto the playing field from Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The air that Berry breathes in and out every second is a true testament to why he should win this award, throw in his performance in 2015 and it's a lock. I won't argue that.

Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year? 2

All due respect to Eric Berry, if not for him would this be Sean Lee's to lose? The national media would, hypocritically, tell you that perhaps Adrian Peterson is worthy of winning it. Peterson did lead the league in rushing yards after missing a majority of 2014 (thanks to some pretty severe child abuse charges that people have conveniently forgotten), and from a strictly football perspective that's obviously impressive.

Arizona's Carson Palmer rebounded from the exact same injury that Sean Lee had, and Lee's Penn State teammate NaVorro Bowman missed all of 2014 with a torn ACL and MCL. Both are worthy nominees, but would they top Lee?

Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year? 3

It's hard to compare Palmer to either equally given that his influence on a game is much larger, but Bowman did lead the NFL in tackles (and Lee significantly). Bowman and Lee tied for the season in sacks (2.5 each), but Lee has him beat in the interceptions category (a whopper of a lead... 1-0).

When considering things fully this award rightfully belongs to Eric Berry, and if it weren't him it'd be hard to argue against NaVorro Bowman. All I'm saying is Sean Lee deserves some love. He's certainly in the top five for the award and deserves to at least be a nominee during NFL Honors on Saturday night. Sean was a big reason why the Cowboys were competitive when they were and Cowboys Nation wants him honored in any way that he can be for that effort.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

Where would you rank Sean Lee in terms of the Comeback Player Of The Year candidates? Let me know! Comment below, Email me at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@Gmail.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year?" 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!

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Cowboys Sign WR Devin Smith, Former 2nd-Round Pick

Jess Haynie

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Devin Smith

The Dallas Cowboys have reportedly signed Receiver Devin Smith, previously with the New York Jets, to a futures contract. Smith was a 2nd-round pick, 37th overall, in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Before going pro, Devin was a college teammate of current Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and Noah Brown. They were all members of the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes team that won the National Championship.

Smith's agent, Jason Bernstein, tweeting the following earlier today:

Jason Bernstein on Twitter

Congrats to WR Devin Smith @dsmithosu for signing with the #DallasCowboys! Welcome back. https://t.co/hCMYoE8fEh

Thus far, Smith's NFL career has been marred by injuries. He has suffered two ACL tears in the same knee and only been able to appear in 14 games. He was waived by the Jets last summer and was not with any team last season.

Overall, the 2015 class of receivers has been disappointing. Amari Cooper has been a star and other later-round picks like Tyler Lockett, Stefon Diggs, and Jamison Crowder have been good. But the other big names of the class, such as Kevin White, Breshad Perriman, and DeVante Parker, have not lived up to the hype.

The Cowboys are known for trying to reclaim players who once had high draft status and bad starts to their careers. They are clearly hoping to cash in on Smith's previously perceived potential, which had him projected as a possible first-round talent at one time.

For both Devin and Dallas' sake, we hope it's a success!



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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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