The Cowboys season saving win against Carolina will have big consequences going forward.
Last night we learned All-Pro ILB Sean Lee was lost for the year with a right big toe injury. The Cowboys defense has been a revelation early this season, ranking fifth in yards against per game. Rob Ryan also enjoys depth at the position with former Panther Dan Connor slated to fill in — interestingly enough Lee’s injury problems remind me of Connor’s troubles staying healthy — but as ESPN Dallas’ Todd Archer states, Lee is an irreplaceable cog in the Boys D:
However, in spite of the depth the Cowboys have at the position, Lee is not a replaceable player for them. Not only is he their defensive captain and one of their most important leaders, he has played consistently better this year than has any other player on their defense, including superstar outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and either of their two new and very talented cornerbacks. Lee’s instincts and playmaking ability cannot be replicated by players like Carter or Connor, no matter how capable they are.
Case in point, Lee’s ridiculous fade away swat on Louis Murphy that would’ve given the Panthers a key first down in the fourth quarter. Bruce Carter will take over defensive playcalling duties in Lee’s absence and Dallas is expected to sign former Lions LB Ernie Sims today.
For those of us who aren’t Cowboys fans — the majority of you — what this means in fantasy terms is the question of the day. Dallas’ pass defense has been formidable thus far. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne have done a stellar job in coverage — opposing teams are attempting 27.8 passes per game, the second lowest total in the league. Problem is, Lee excelled in pass protection. The run defense has been middle of the road — averaging four yards per carry and 105 yards per game.
It’s unrealistic to expect a total free fall production wise. Dallas’ defense has been carrying the offense at times — Archer notes the defense has more quality than the offense in general. But a previously unfavorable playoff matchup is now a toss up for owners of BenJarvus Green-Ellis (week 14), whoever gets the carries for Pittsburgh (week 15) and the Saints cadre of running backs (week 16).
Wow, that’s a pretty terrible list. If you’re in the playoffs it’s likely you haven’t been and will not be starting any of those players when it really counts. In the short team, it’ll be interesting to see what Ahmad Bradshaw can do this week when the Giants visit Cowboys stadium. Bradshaw’s performance could be an arbiter of things to come. Read the rest of this entry »