June 29, 2019
Cowboys linebackers named league’s best tandem in 2019
Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Dallas Cowboys as having the NFL’s best linebacker tandems going into 2019. For a team with a rich history of great linebackers, that's good news for fans of America's team.
In one year, their starting lineup of Sean Lee (strong), Jaylon Smith (middle), and Leighton Vander Esch (weak) became not only the best positional group on the team but the best in the entire league.
Here’s what Connor Price wrote on the football analytics website recently after ranking the duo of Vander Esch and Smith as the NFL’s best linebacker tandem heading into 2019:
“Smith & Vander Esch are easily the most talented pair at the position as their 84.4 and 84.9 respective grades ranked sixth and fifth among all NFL linebackers last year. In fact, Dallas is the only team with two top-10 linebackers … You would be hard-pressed to find a data point that this duo does not excel in.”
Vander Esch led the Cowboys with 62 defensive stops despite only starting in 11 games as a rookie. He also earned a grade over 80.0 in both coverage and run defense, a feat only four other linebackers accomplished last season.
As for Smith, he played all but 48 defensive snaps in 2018. Looks like we're past the injury issues.
Jaylon posted career-highs in tackles (121), sacks (4.0) and pass defends (4) in his third season in Dallas.
Vander Esch earned his first Pro Bowl nomination as a rookie last season, but NFL.com recently predicted that Smith would be the next to receive the honor. Both linebackers have a legitimate chance be named Pro Bowlers together this upcoming season.
Ran DeBord - All Access Sporting News
Some content sourced from: AASNSports; DallasMorningNews
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