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Morris Claibourne struggled with the Cowboys Cover 2 scheme in 2013

2013 Dallas Cowboys Position Reviews

After a season of injury and sub-par play, it is time for Morris Claiborne to figure it out

By Matthew Postins

PostinsPostcards.com

RattleandHumSports.com is breaking down every position group for the 2013 Dallas Cowboys. Today it’s the cornerbacks.

Cornerbacks: Brandon Carr (starter), Orlando Scandrick (starter), Morris Claiborne (backup), Sterling Moore (backup), B.W. Webb (backup).

Other notable players: none.

In 2013: Is the secondary a mess or isn’t it? Good question. For the first month or so the secondary looked like it was in pretty good shape, but that was misleading. Why? For the first month of the season the Cowboys had one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. In the Cover 2, the pass rush is critical to making the defense work. It not only creates havoc on the quarterback but it also makes the cornerbacks better by cutting down on the quarterback’s response time and cutting down on passing lanes. It makes the job easier for the cornerbacks.

After the Denver game – where the Cowboys gave up 414 passing yards – that seemed to change. As the pass rush slowed down, things became harder for the corners. At times it became very hard for the corners. Orlando Scandrick, all things considered, had the best season. He was more consistent in coverage, came the closest to embracing the new Cover 2 system and, when the time came to play more man coverage, Scandrick slid into that quite well. He also supplanted Morris Claiborne as a starter, who battled injuries all season and only played in 10 games. Claiborne never really embraced the new system, and he said as much during a radio interview at midseason. Claiborne said he was better in man coverage. In fact, late in the season Jerry Jones went on the radio and said the Cowboys’ corners needed to play more man coverage. Either way, it was nearly a lost season for Claiborne, who didn’t make a significant impact.

Brandon Carr had a solid season. He played every game and, for the most part provided consistent play. He had a horrible game against Washington in Week 16, but some of that was due to an illness. Like Claiborne, though, he’s probably more suited for man coverage. Carr was second on the team in interceptions with three. B.W. Webb, the fourth-round pick, had some issues in coverage, but he has the pedigree to work that out over time. But he was not ready to be a third corner, even though he was pressed into service due to injuries. Sterling Moore joined the team late in the year for depth purposes, and he played well down the stretch, well enough for the Cowboys to consider expanding his role in 2014.

Looking ahead: Don’t expect this position group to change much in 2014. All are under contract. So it’s about finding the right system for them to play in, and that’s probably a system based in man coverage. The key is Claiborne’s development in year three of his contract. Right now Claiborne is starting to smell like a disappointment. Combine the injury problems with the scant number of interceptions the past two seasons and one has to wonder if he was worth trading up for. No corner on the team needs to have a great 2014 as much as Claiborne.

Next up: Safeties.

 

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