The Dallas Cowboys are considering their options as they go about replacing Sean Lee, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the first day of organized team activities last week.
Among those options are Jonathan Vilma, the former New Orleans Saints linebacker, and — Brian Urlacher.
Urlacher sat out last season, working for Fox, after being released by the Chicago Bears, but ESPN’s Ed Werder reports that he’s one possibility the team is considering. If Urlacher is in shape and game, he might be a good fit because of the Cowboys’ defensive scheme. That’s one reason why losing Lee, the best player on the league’s worst defense, may not be the apocalyptic event it may have seemed last week, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News writes.
[H]is absence in 2014 does not doom the Cowboys, nor does it doom their defense.
Middle linebacker has always been a replaceable part in the Tampa 2 defensive scheme.
Ever hear of Shelton Quarles?
Jamie Duncan played middle linebacker for Monte Kiffin on the 2001 Tampa Bay team that won nine games and qualified for the playoffs as a wild card. Duncan bolted for the St. Louis Rams in free agency that off-season, so the Buccaneers plugged their undrafted Canadian Football League refugee Quarles into the middle.
Quarles finished second on the team in tackles in 2002, Tampa Bay fielded the NFL’s best defense and the Buccaneers won their only Super Bowl.
Tony Dungy, who brought Kiffin and the Tampa 2 scheme to the Buccaneers, would later implement that defense when he became head coach at Indianapolis. In 2007, his Colts won the Super Bowl with Gary Brackett, an undersized, undrafted college free agent at middle linebacker.