Dallas Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch has quickly become vital to defense

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Here we go again. As the Dallas Cowboys enter the final leg of the 2022 season, they suddenly find themselves strapped to a somewhat injury-prone player. A player who’s seemingly irreplaceable. A player whose status is currently in question for upcoming games.

Less than two years removed from the Sean Lee era (yes, Sean Lee was on the roster as recently as 2020), the Dallas Cowboys have once again hitched their wagon to a single, somewhat fragile, player.

Leighton Vander Esch is an integral part of the Dallas Cowboys defense and when he’s off the field, things tend to go poorly.

Nate Tice at the Athletic dove into the situation before Saturday’s game and the results were more than just a little upsetting.

The Cowboys have struggled to fill their LB ranks all season. Jabril Cox was supposed to be competing for snaps this year, but the second year ‘backer from LSU is said to be raw and not quite up to speed on his linebacker assignments.

Damone Clark, this year’s rookie LB from LSU, has been starting ahead of Cox. While Clark is showing the kinds of qualities that could make him an elite NFL LB, he’s only a few games into his career and sometimes plays like it.

Anthony Barr is a wildcard. The former Vikings Pro Bowler is a downhill runner who doesn’t always fill his run fits and can be lost in coverage from time to time. He’ll follow a big play with a couple headscratchers making everyone a tad uneasy.

Leighton Vander Esch is the most polished and most reliable LB on the Dallas Cowboys. With Parsons almost exclusively playing on the defensive line, the second level of the defense is forced to rely on LVE and the Dallas Cowboys stout group of box-safeties.

Vander Esch was out on Saturday recovering from his shoulder injury and luckily the Eagles were unable to take advantage.  With Jalen Hurts out (who’s at a record pace for rushes/game) Philadelphia understandably had trouble running the ball. But their passing game was still strong, operating at a success rate of 58 percent against Dallas (the same SR Dallas had).

The Cowboys are expected to play two rushing QBs to close out the regular season. Malik Willis and Carson Wentz will require disciplined defense to stop their running component. And in the playoffs, against more traditional QBs, the Cowboys will need LVE plugging holes in traditional rushing attacks because they don’t have many trustworthy LBs behind him.

Must Read. Cowboys form a well-rounded platoon at WR3. light

It’s imperative for the Cowboys playoff success that Leighton Vander Esch is back on the field and playing at a high level because he’s about as irreplaceable of the player the Cowboys have and that’s more than a bit troubling.