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Cowboys Analysis: Sean Lee Projection, Reasons VY to Dallas Makes Sense

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At NBC, I posted my 2013 projection for linebacker Sean Lee:

Last year, Lee recorded 58 tackles in just six games. Playing only 331 snaps, Lee’s tackle rate was 17.5 percent. That’s a remarkable number and, in all likelihood, Lee won’t be able to sustain it over the course of a full season. In comparison, he posted a 12.1 percent tackle rate in 2012.

The key to projecting Lee’s total tackles is figuring out how many snaps he’ll play. Most argue that Lee is injury prone, but most injuries seem to be the result of randomness. They happen so infrequently that it’s really difficult to tell if a player is really more susceptible to injuries than the average person or if he’s just unlucky. On top of that, even if we did label Lee as injury prone, injuries are rare enough that he’d still be likely to participate in a full season, or close to it.

With those things in mind, we can project Lee for a drop in tackle rate—probably somewhere around 14.0 percent—and around 925 snaps played. If those numbers hold up, Lee would total 130 tackles in 2013.

One of Lee’s most impressive traits is that he’s been really good in coverage despite possessing average athleticism. He’s not that fast and he’s pretty stiff in the hips, yet he’s always in the right position. In his limited 2012 action, Lee allowed 16 receptions on 20 attempts (80.0 percent) for 152 yards (7.6 YPA). The season prior—the one in which he played in 15 games—Lee allowed 50 catches on 63 attempts (79.4 percent) for 497 yards (7.9 YPA).

And at DallasCowboys.com, I suggested Vince Young might not be such a bad fit in Dallas:

6.8: Robert Griffin III’s YPC as a rookie ­– the highest mark in the NFL by nearly a yard.

Why would RGIII’s rushing prowess affect the Cowboys’ quarterback decisions? As Nick and Bryan pointed out, Young can give the defense a unique look in practice. With Griffin and possibly Michael Vick set to run read-option, the Cowboys need to be prepared to defend it. In RGIII’s first game against Dallas, he completed 19 of 27 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns, and you can bet that much of that passing success was generated indirectly through Griffin’s ability to take off on the ground. Young can imitate Griffin and Vick in practice in a way that Kyle Orton simply can’t.

6.9: Young’s net-YPA during his final two years in Tennessee.

Young struggled with interceptions during his lone season in Philadelphia, but he was quietly really effective in 2009 and 2010 in Tennessee. Net-YPA is a stat that factors sack yards into a quarterback’s yards per attempt. Even though Young has taken too many sacks during his career, including on 7.7 percent of his passes in 2010, he’s still been very efficient as a passer.

A year after finishing in the top 12 in net-YPA in 2009, Young checked in at sixth in 2010. He also tossed 20 touchdowns to only 10 picks during that time, a ratio superior to Tony Romo’s career mark.

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