The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Grading the ‘Boys: Sean Lee 2012 Grade

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My latest grade has been handed out to linebacker Sean Lee.

The Numbers

With 58 tackles in only 331 snaps, Lee’s 17.5 percent tackle rate might be the highest I have ever seen. In comparison, Bruce Carter recorded a tackle on 11.2 percent of his snaps—barely below All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis. The Cowboys’ defense was obviously completely different once Lee went down.

In coverage, Lee uses his smarts and proper angles to overcome being an average athlete. This year, he allowed 7.6 YPA on passes thrown his way—just about the same as Bruce Carter. Quarterbacks posted only a 77.5 passer rating when throwing toward Lee.

One area where we’ll likely see Lee’s game change is as a pass-rusher. In the past two seasons in Rob Ryan’s defense, Lee blitzed 142 times—or 11.9 percent of his snaps. That probably won’t happen as much in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 scheme, although Lee has proven to be an effective pass-rusher despite zero career sacks; his 9.9 percent pressure rate is solid for an inside linebacker.

One stat many people overlook is penalties. Although they can fluctuate some from player to player, team penalty rates are actually relatively stable and a good indicator of overall talent. A high penalty rate—as the Cowboys have had for years—indicates players are out of position. Lee isn’t one of those players. He’s pretty much always in position, leading to one of the craziest stats I’ve seen over the past few years: Lee hasn’t committed a penalty—not even one that was declined—in his entire career!

See the full analysis and grade at Dallas News.

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