Can The Dallas Defense Survive Without Ware, Hatcher And Now Lee?
Even with Demarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher on the roster the Cowboys were one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season. After their departures a weak defense seemed to get weaker.
Jerry Jones made some necessary additions adding Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain and Amboi Okoye, but no one was expecting Sean Lee to go down during OTAs earlier this week.
A devastating loss to a defense that was hoping to catch a break and improve after last season’s poor performance as the Cowboys finished 8-8 (one season-ending win away from the playoffs) for the third consecutive season.
Lee tearing his left ACL this past Tuesday during a non-contact OTA drill leaves a huge hole in the Dallas defense that was already looking to fill some large voids in the Cowboys front seven. Someone on the roster or possibly free agency will have to step up and assume the role, but the chances of someone being able to fill Lee’s shoes are seemingly impossible this late in the game.
Jerry Jones and Co. will certainly take a look at the free agent pool of linebackers, however, the pickings are slim and if there was a no-brainer of the bunch another team would already have them on the roster. Notables such as Jonathan Vilma, Dan Connor and Erin Henderson are available (and don’t forget the Brian Urlacher-Rod Marinelli connection), but Dallas could have a suitable replacement (or two) already on the roster to take over for Lee.
The Cowboys are really high on rookie Anthony Hitchens (fourth-round pick from Iowa) and while they weren’t expecting him to start in his first year this could be an excellent opportunity for him to make an impact as a first-year player. Devonte Holloman who appeared in nine games last season is also an option and journeyman Justin Durant could also be in the mix.
Could be a linebacker by committee situation for awhile until one of the aforementioned (or new addition) can play at a consistent level as the season rolls along.
Not an ideal situation for Dallas and while the offense is good enough to carry this team someone will have to emerge at Lee’s spot and help lead the defense if the Cowboys are to have any chance to contend in the NFC East.