Dallas Cowboys 2016 Defense: A Tale of Two Parents

Growing up, my mother was always the enforcer in my household. I would get into trouble, be disciplined by her, and my father would subsequently come in to smooth things over. I felt like my father was on my side and that my mother was just out to get me. All of this was obviously a misrepresentation of what was actually occurring. My mom simply had to be the tough one because she knew my father was too passive to be hard on me. It was necessary for my growth as a person to have both sides of the coin from my parents. You might be asking yourself why you’d even care; and honestly, if I were you, I’d be wondering the same thing. We’ll get to how that impacts the Dallas Cowboys 2016 Defense: A Tale of Two Parents.

 The Mother Hen defined

A person who worries about, cares for, or watches over other people in a way that is annoying or unwanted (emphasis on the annoying).

Orlando Scandrick, the mother hen, is back and he is more pissed off than ever. Scandrick, along with Sean Lee, plays an integral part in the balancing act of leadership within the defense. After recovering from a season-ending ACL injury suffered in training camp last year, Scandrick feels he has something to prove. After all, this is an organization that has had his back throughout his entire career. He echoed that sentiment to ESPN’s Todd Archer, “To go out and get hurt in training camp like I did was tough. I just feel like I owe it to them to be here, to be committed. This organization has been nothing but great to me the first eight years of my career.”

The feeling is undoubtedly mutual. Coaches absolutely love what he brings to this defense; he holds his teammates accountable. Jason Garrett has echoed this sentiment, “Orlando loves to play football. He loves playing for the Cowboys. His great strength as a football player is his passion for the game and the edge that he plays with.”

It’s Not Cool to Be Popular, It’s Cool to Win

When it comes to defense, a team needs guys that are going to hold their peers liable. It’s not a popular task and it takes a unique voice to have the message reciprocated. Let’s start with Scandrick. If a player messes up, he is the first to let him know. If he doesn’t feel like one of his teammates is giving it his all, he is going to let him know. Better yet, he backs up the talk by recklessly throwing his body around the gridiron on Sundays.

Whether it’s coming up to make a tackle on a running back on an outside run or screen, or pressing and getting physical with a bigger receiver, this is a guy who isn’t backing down from anyone. Even Scandrick acknowledges that it’s not an approach that works for everyone. “I believe I can be the best. I believe that being competitive and always staying on the attack gets it done, and I think that rubs people the wrong way,” Scandrick told The Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill.

While Scandrick employs the more aggressive, in your face type of leadership, Lee plays the role like that of my father on the Cowboys defense. Lee is the quarterback of the defense and there isn’t a player who understands the game better than he does.
Lee is seen as the All-American golden boy. He leads by example with his mental and physical preparation. Lee’s work ethic was instilled from the get go by his parents. “From an early age I was taught by my grandfather and father to lead by example,” Lee told SportsDay’s Barry Horn. “Basically, it was, ‘Shut your mouth and do your job.’ They’re very disciplined men, serious men, who worked extremely hard.”

Dallas Cowboys 2016 Defense: A Tale of Two Parents

Lee is also the kind of guy who can be difficult to relate to if a player comes from a different background. He comes from a family of lawyers and his grandfather, Donald Lee, was a former federal judge in Western Pennsylvania.  He also had a 3.78 GPA and got an 1110 on the SAT. He’s the kind of guy that has earned everything. He also benefited from a solid family structure that allowed him to flourish and take advantage of his opportunities.

There are people who had a suburban upbringing like Lee and there are others who were raised as an only child in the rough areas of South Central, Los Angeles like Scandrick.  They each offer a different perspective so that no matter which background a player comes from, he will have someone to identify with. The Cowboys have built a program with diverse personalities. They want to ensure no matter who they bring in, the leadership will be effective in communicating the team’s message.

Last season was a large disappointment.  Obviously having a healthy Tony Romo and Dez Bryant will make most of the difference. However, don’t undersell the impact of a healthy Lee and Scandrick roaming the defense together. It’s something that hasn’t been seen for a full season since 2013 (even then Lee only played 11 games). Cowboys fans should be ecstatic about seeing both in the prime of their careers, finally healthy at the same time.

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