The Dallas Cowboys can’t stop anyone when Sean Lee doesn’t play. Unfortunately, that’s just the reality of the situation.
In the three games this season in which Lee was inactive, the Cowboys have given up a combined 107 points. In the two games Lee missed in 2015, the Cowboys surrendered 33 points to the Eagles and 34 points to the Redskins, both of which were at home.
Not only are they hemorrhaging points, but teams are gaining nearly 400 yards of offense against Dallas and they aren’t turning the ball over. The more you dig, the more you learn about just how terrible the Cowboys’ defense has been over the past three seasons when Sean Lee was inactive. Here is how they have faired in the last six games in which Lee hasn’t played:
When the Cowboys are counting on Lee to play and then he leaves the game with an injury, everything falls apart. The chart above doesn’t even include the game in Week 10 vs. Atlanta in which the Falcons scored 20 points after Lee left the game. There was also another game in 2013 in which the Saints scored 42 straight points after Lee departed. He’s the glue that holds Humpty-dumpty together.
The only time the Cowboys were able to have sustained success without Lee was in 2014. Lee was lost for the season in May with a torn ACL in the first play of OTAs. However, the difference in that season was that the Cowboys had time to prepare for the loss and they were able to go out and trade for Rolando McClain to fill in for him that season.
Given enough time, the Cowboys would likely be able to find an answer to the linebacker problems. But for a number of reasons, the Cowboys can’t seem to find a suitable replacement for him on a week-to-week basis, let alone in the middle of the game.
None of this is new information for Cowboys fans. They know the moment that Lee leaves the field, the Cowboys defensive play will drop off dramatically. But what has made that loss hurt more this season is that Anthony Hitchens hasn’t been able to stay healthy either. When both are out, Dallas has no chance.