I beg your pardon Morris Claiborne.
Something didn’t look right last season. Not one bit. I’m going to go ahead and give you the biggest stat of them all in the form of a question: How often was Morris Claiborne mentioned last season?
Not enough. Not nearly enough.
Now, I can hear you tell me that is actually a good thing. Silent nights are wonderful nights for cornerbacks. It’s a thankless job. I get it. Do a great job in covering your man and thy name shall not be hollered. Except of course, when you make that big interception and return the rock for six.
(The Cowboys tied for last in the NFL with seven interceptions.)
Other times, when you hear about cornerbacks, they are getting burned or are busy giving up tackles. You may recognize this already: Television cameras follow these defensive backs usually with their arms up complaining to refs. Or they are complaining to the safeties.
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) defends against New Orleans Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson (19) at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Playing the cornerback position, in my opinion, is the hardest roster spot to play (outside of quarterback) in the NFL. Period.
But this should not lend an excuse for Morris Claiborne. Nope. No sir.
You sir, were drafted too high to not have a name on this team, or heck this league! Oh let’s see here: Morris Claiborne, an All-American stand out at Louisiana State University (LSU) whom many projected as the best defensive product coming out of the 2012 draft.
Wow. Really? You don’t say. Had me fooled.
Well, we saw “flashes” from number 24 last season I hear you say. Look here friend: we don’t draft players with a first round, sixth pick so he can give the team “flashes.” Right? We draft players that high with expectations. It’s a return on investment — immediate results expected. (Meaning: impact on day of debut.)
The Cowboys didn’t draft a quarterback. Cornerbacks don’t sit for a year or two learning. Still with me?
In case you were in a cave last season, the league is shaping into a pass happy orientation. So for quarterbacks, that means bombs away. For cornerbacks, let’s hope you have a good massage therapist because your legs will be over used.
We can debate on how the league is offensively friendly all day. But that’s a different discussion. The reality is that this isn’t changing. Quarterbacks are throwing up buckets of yards these days. Get use to it. Adapt. Plan ahead and scout for appropriate personnel.
Cornerbacks are too important. I’d argue you would need three, or ever four (injuries) solid cornerbacks to be successful in this modern passing league.
Aug 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Morris Claiborne is so important to this Dallas Cowboy picture. He must be upfront and center. He must have his name called. If this doesn’t happen by next season, I am ready to call bust.
Harsh? Maybe. Let’s face it: Morris Claiborne has already been driven off the parking lot. His new car value has dropped.
Time is already ticking for the man who just turned 23 last February. He is young. Yes. But only in our world. In the football world, where cornerbacks have such a short time to live in their prime, age as a football player is different.
Based on what we saw last season, when left to his own devices, Morris Claiborne can be trusted on an island. He has the ability to patrol the best of the receivers. The Cowboys need him to be exceptional. They need him to be elite. Anything else is a bust.
Hopefully we’ll hear his name called a little more.