(Editor's Note: Last summer, the DallasCowboys.com staff attempted to answer 20 questions about the Cowboys' roster leading into training camp. With the 2015 season complete, we're picking out the 10 best and most applicable questions and reviewing how our predictions fared.)
4) Will The Move To Outside LB Improve Sean Lee's Durability?
Bryan: In a season where not much went right, moving Sean Lee from MIKE to WILL was the right thing to do. It allowed Lee more of an opportunity to just flow to the ball instead of the constant banging that he had to endure while playing in the middle. At WILL there were less collisions for blockers but there were also fewer times where Lee had to square up and take on a ball carrier in the hole. He was able to make more plays on the move which allowed him to deliver the blow instead of accepting it. It also freed him up to handle more opportunities to blitz. At MIKE he was more involved in coverage, which for Lee is not a bad thing, but as a rusher he was not only creating chances for himself but his teammates as well. The results of the move have been nothing but positive and should be going forward. Whether the club re-signs Rolando McClain or drafts a replacement, Lee at WILL is his best spot.
David:If all you're looking at is the bottom line, you could make an easy argument that Sean Lee is coping with injury issues. He suffered two concussions during the course of the year – one of which forced him to miss a game – and he was held out with a hamstring problem in the season finale. Despite that, I think you saw a glaring difference in his capability following his move to the weak side. I said in the summer that I thought the Cowboys could get 12 or 13 games out of Lee, and he appeared in 14 -- more than his previous two seasons combined. Given that many appearances, he easily set a career high for tackles, and he even added 2.5 sacks. I honestly thought he'd have a better season in pass coverage. Back in 2013, he picked off four passes from the middle linebacker spot, but he finished with just one this year – though it was a spectacular play to help beat the Eagles. I asked Lee about his durability after the Buffalo game on Dec. 27, when he racked up a whopping 15 tackles with a half-sack. He said he felt good about his availability for the season, but it's something he needs to continue to prove over the coming years. Chalk up 2015 as a fantastic first step in that direction.
Nick: I said it then and still believe it – injuries are just going to happen. For Lee, it doesn't matter what position he plays, he's always going to be around the ball. He could play cornerback and he'd probably get 100 tackles. So that being said, I don't know if the position change really made a difference. He still got hurt three different times and ended up falling short of his benchmark of 80 percent of the snaps, which cost him a $2 million bonus. Honestly, I didn't ever think the Cowboys moved him to WILL to prevent him from injury as much as it was to get him paired up with Rolando McClain. No matter where Lee plays next year, keeping him on the field and healthy will be the top priority.
Rob: Back healthy from his 2014 ACL injury, I expected Lee's production to rise in 2015 at the WILL position where he could chase down plays without taking on so many blockers. It did seem like a better fit for him, and even though he missed two games, his 14 appearances were the second most in his career. I do think it's a better spot from a durability standpoint because he's covered up more than at middle linebacker. However, as hard as he plays, and because of the position he plays, I don't think you can ever play him at a spot that completely insulates him from injury. Same goes for any linebacker. Injuries happen because linebackers are right in the middle of the action, making hits and taking hits.
To review our original answers, click here: http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/2015/07/16/20-questions-will-move-outside-lb-help-sean-lee%E2%80%99s-durability