We get it, it’s just the Pro Bowl. It’s just an All Star game and the least popular one in the big sports leagues. So we probably shouldn’t care that much. But how in the world was Sean Lee not included on the NFC roster as an outside linebacker? It’s ridiculous.
Lee, has been the heart and soul of a much-improved Cowboys defense, and he has been unblockable for much of the season. His 18 tackle game against the Giants was incredible. He was basically responsible for keeping the Cowboys in that game.
Lee is second in the league in official tackles with 140, trailing only Seattle’s Bobby Wagner. He’s not only a tackling machine, but he’s also a great coverage guy. That’s why Dallas keeps him on the field all the time. And we do mean all the tine, like in every snap the defense has played.
He is the leader of a defense that leads the league in rushing yards allowed. That’s right, the Cowboys are first in the NFL allowing only 80.9 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys are also fourth in the league in points allowed at 18.4 a game. This defensive unit is one of the surprises of the league, and much of it is due not only to Lee’s production, but his ability to set the defense and diagnose plays before the offense even snaps the ball. Watch how many times right before the snap that Lee moves his defensive compatriots into the right position or actually tells them exactly what play is coming. Here’s Jason Garrett on Lee from a week ago:
“He’s probably playing his best ball right now. His production is off the charts. One of the things that we commented on as coaches is it’s a lot of different kinds of production. If it’s direct runs at him, he’s productive. If it’s sacking the quarter, he’s productive. If it’s recovering a fumble, he’s productive. If it’s coverage, it’s runs to the inside, it’s runs to the outside, it’s tackle after the catch, he’s just everywhere. And he’s doing a lot of different things for us on top of the communication and the leadership that he has.”
“There’s not a guy, in my opinion, playing defense right now on any team playing at that level,” Marinelli said. “What you’re asking him to do? He’s off the charts.
“Never comes off the field. He plays the pass. He can blitz. He can play the run inside, play the run outside. He can cover man-to-man. I mean, he runs the defense. He runs the whole thing.”
Part of the problem with the Pro Bowl voting is that Lee is in a category with 3-4 OLBs or pass-rushing specialist OLBs, guys who make their living sacking quarterbacks and putting up flashy numbers. So you get guys like Vic Beasley and Ryan Kerrigan making the list. And those guys have had outstanding seasons. Thomas Davis also made it, and while I have huge respect for the career Davis has had, Lee is simply playing better football right now. In fact, It’s hard to think of a player on defense anywhere in the league playing better than Lee right now.
Hats off to Sean Lee, a Pro Bowler in spirit, if not in name.