*(Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks, football analyst Bryan Broaddus will take a closer look at each position, highlighting the standouts and players who need more production. Today, we will focus on the linebacker position.) *
Top Performer: Sean Lee
When you have a defense that has struggled like this Cowboys one has for games, it is hard to really find some bright spots in their play. You can say that Orlando Scandrick and Jason Hatcher are two players that come to mind but Sean Lee would be right there with them. I didn't feel like Lee's season started off as well as it needed to but after the Kansas City game, he has been consistent in the way he has played, even though there have been others around him that have not done the same. Lee leads the club in tackles, tackles for loss and interceptions which is no surprise.
What makes Lee so special, is his nose for the ball. There are very few players in this league that play with the smarts and the defensive awareness that he is able to show down after down. There once was a time where when I would tell people that Sean Lee was the best defensive player on this team and those words would be met with a quick laugh because of DeMarcus Ware but let's be real honest here, it's really is no longer that close.
Need More From: Bruce Carter
What has been strange about this season for me on defense, is when Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett made the decision to switch from the 3-4 scheme to 4-3, I believed from what I knew about Bruce Carter's game from his days at North Carolina and what I had observed with the Cowboys, that this switch would be a perfect fit for him in the style in which he plays in.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that Carter has been as good as Lee in the way he has played but there is something just not right with what we have seen from Carter. Despite being 3rd on the squad in tackles, he hasn't had those dominate performances that I believed he would have running to the ball playing on the weak side in this defense. Now with Sean Lee out for at least two games, there will be pressure on Carter to make more plays which he was able to do last season once Lee went down in the Carolina game. I always remember what Sean Lee told me about Bruce Carter when he said "There are things that Bruce can do athletically, that I only dream about." Bruce Carter needs to step up and do those things that Sean Lee believes he can do.
Six-Game Forecast: [embedded_ad]
If this group is lucky, Sean Lee will only miss the Giants and Raiders contest before returning against the Bears. It appears that DeVonte Holloman is back in the mix and will work to get ready to face the Giants most likely on that strong side in place of Justin Durant, who also injured his hamstring against the Saints. Kyle Wilber who has played linebacker and defensive end during his career with the Cowboys will now go back to linebacker to add depth to the position along with Kyle Bosworth and Cameron Lawrence. Without Lee in the lineup, it appears that Holloman, Sims and Carter would be the starters, unless something changes with the health of Holloman, then more adjustments would have to be made. What this group has to do, is do a better job of getting off blocks in the running game which was a huge issue against the Saints last Sunday. Since the Eagles game, these players have not been at their best when it has come to stopping the run and that has to change quickly despite their best player on the sideline for the next two weeks.