One of the biggest losses for the Dallas Cowboys last season didn’t exactly happen on the field. Not having then second-year linebacker Leighton Vander Esch available for a playoff push dramatically hindered the team’s overall potential.
We all saw Vander Esch blossom as a rookie. His assimilation into the NFL back in 2018 was a huge reason for why Dallas was able to rally over the second half of the season to the point that they won the NFC East and a playoff game. To say that people were excited about him entering last year would be an understatement.
Of course, as we all know, the Cowboys linebackers drastically disappointed in 2019 and as a result it is difficult to place a lot of hope on the group entering 2020. Leighton Vander Esch carries a bit of a question mark in the minds of many and Jaylon Smith seemed to regress.
That being said there is still a lot of national praise going around for the Wolf Hunter. What is it this time?
NFL.com predicted Leighton Vander Esch as the Cowboys team MVP in 2020
Who is the most important player on the Cowboys this season? Who will play the biggest role? Contribute the most? There are a number of ways to look at that idea.
Dak Prescott obviously plays a far more critical role than any individual player because he is the team’s quarterback and this is the game of football. Aside from him though, who else could you see being the team’s most valuable player throughout the year?
NFL.com predicted team MVPs for every team this season and they just so happened to pick Leighton Vander Esch as the one for the Dallas Cowboys.
Around The NFL Podcast colleague Gregg Rosenthal put it well in a recent write-up on key homegrown players, pointing out that Vander Esch is the Cowboys’ modern-day version of Sean Lee — the defense is simply not the same when he’s missing in action. Vander Esch was a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine as a rookie, but a neck injury limited him — and the Dallas defense as a whole — in 2019. Vander Esch recently said he is feeling “wonderful” as he looks ahead to 2020, and his presence in the middle of the Dallas defense is the rising tide to lift all boats. To put it another way, peak Vander Esch could be the difference between 12-4 and 8-8 at Jerrah World.
It is true that the same outlet recently touted Vander Esch as the key “homegrown” player for the Cowboys so apparently there is plenty of LVE love to go around. Considering how great the team was when he starred during his rookie campaign, it makes sense to correlate their overall success with his.
We have talked a lot about how the Cowboys are seemingly going to be playing more aggressively this season and having a player like Leighton Vander Esch at their disposal will certainly make that easier. Mike Nolan knows a thing or two about linebackers so a healthy Vander Esch should have plenty of room to roam in his defense.
Do you agree that Leighton Vander Esch is a worthy candidate for the projected team MVP of the Cowboys in 2020?