The Dallas Cowboys will be without star inside linebacker Sean Lee for the rest of this season. While the sentiment among Cowboys nation was one of despair, the only option for this franchise is to fill the void and move forward. Injuries are a way of life for every NFL player, and it's something each franchise has to cope with.
So, the Cowboys signed veteran linebacker Ernie Sims last Wednesday to help try and fill that void while bolstering the inside linebacker position. Sims has been out of work and without a team for the first seven weeks of the season, but like dealing with the loss of a star player in a moment's notice, the same holds true for an unforeseen opportunity.
There's no way the Cowboys can ask for, nor should it be expected, that Sims will make a seamless transition and completely fill the void left by Lee. In fact, he faces a number of obstacles in just being able to get on the active game-day roster. There's the issue of knocking off the rust, assessing his conditioning and then understanding the complexities of Rob Ryan's defense.
But the former ninth overall pick by the Detroit Lions in the 2006 draft seems healthy, grateful and ready to roll, according to an article featured on ESPNDallas.com. Like the Charlie Peprah signing, I also like this move by the Cowboys as well. Sims is another veteran, who has experienced success and was a productive player, that just might be able to capitalize on his new found appreciation for the game.
After spending four seasons in Detroit, Sims went on to play for Philadelphia and Indianapolis, each for one season. Like most young players in the NFL, Sims was no different when it came to maturity issues, dealing with the transition from the college game and realizing what type of an opportunity they are presented with. To some degree, the Cowboys are dealing with the same thing when it comes to Dez Bryant.
Putting Sims' past aside, there is much more important business to attend to for both Sims and the Cowboys. Each party now faces the daunting task of trying to formulate a plan for replacing Sean Lee and executing it.
Sims is 27-years old and he stands at 6'0" and weighs 235 pounds. He's played in both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes as a hybrid linebacker type. For the Cowboys, his versatility could really help this team since Ryan will show both looks from his defensive unit. With Lee out of the picture, Ryan will have to get even more creative and Sims' versatility, again, could be an added bonus for this team.
Sims started all 16 games his rookie season at outside linebacker for the Lions, collected 124 tackles, was credited with a half sack and one pass deflection. I went back and looked at game footage from all of Sims' NFL destinations, and, in each case, you see the snap in his game. He shows good speed, solid tackling ability and he plays a lot bigger than his stature suggests.
In his second NFL season, he recorded 134 tackles but saw a steady decline all through 2011. He has career stats of 87 games, 536 tackles and four-and-a-half sacks. He's missed nine games since he entered the league, but injury problems did slow him down the past couple of seasons.
For the Cowboys, adding Sims was a no-brainer. It will take him some time to adjust in order for him to make solid contributions, but I like the intangibles he brings to this team. If Sims is looking to prove himself and looking for an opportunity, I think the Cowboys can afford him both of his wishes. Let's hope some results can be delivered to a troubled situation.