There might be defensive players with better numbers. There might defensive players with more highlight plays.
But there is no defensive player in the NFL who has had more of an impact on his team than Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.
It’s not just about his career-high tackle numbers that has led the league’s No. 1 rushing defense.
It’s not just about his intense film study that allows him to diagnose plays and get his fellow defenders in the right position before the snap.
He simply embodies everything a leader should be. He leads by example. He leads by work ethic and study habits.
He also leads by demand, which was on full display Monday.
After the Detroit Lions scored their third touchdown on their third consecutive drive with seemingly no resistance from the injury depleted defense, Lee called them together and unleashed profanity-laced tongue lashing.
“General Lee always gives us the truth,” safety J.J. Wilcox said. “He said we were moving slow and we weren’t playing out type of ball. We love Sean and he’s a captain of ours, he knows football and we believe in him. We had to take it one play at a time. I think we were thinking too far ahead.”
Said defensive end David Irving: “He said we gotta get our (expletive) together. This isn't how we play. This isn't how we've practiced. We were just out there beating ourselves and Sean's a great leader. He just put his foot down, got us all together, made us aware of it and he hit it again at halftime. And we came out with a much better result than in the fist half.”
The Lions did not score on their final eight drives.
After gaining 13 first downs on their first three drives, they gained 10 on their final eight.
After gaining 191 yards on their first three drives, they gained 128 on their final eight.
That was the impact of the man the Cowboys call General Lee.
“I think it’s a game defensively shows if we don’t play the right way what can happen,” Lee said. “We have to find a way to play the right way all the time and never allow something like that first quarter to happen. That was unacceptable. We won’t win if we play like that.”