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Bursting The Bust Label: Morris Claiborne Taking Advantage Of Opportunities

When the Dallas Cowboys traded up to select cornerback Morris Claiborne with the 6th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft, they were hoping to aquire the lockdown corner which they had not had in years.

The New York Giants had just thrown all over the Cowboys to end the 2011 season, with the final image being Terence Newman chasing a much younger Victor Cruz down the sideline en route to a heartbreaking loss.

Claiborne was going to be the solution to all of the Cowboys problems. In hindsight, it was unfair to put all of this on Claiborne. He didn’t ask for those expectations, he just came to play football. Unfortunately for both him and the Cowboys, he didn’t play football very well at all.

So far this season, Mo’ has been the best cornerback on this entire roster. And the film proves it.

Tackling

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Last Sunday we saw Morris Claiborne come down field and tackle like we never have before. Here we see him drop back into his zone, read the underneath route, and come up to deliver a blow. Accompanied by JJ Wilcox, Claiborne knocks the Washington receiver back and makes a real nice play.

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Once again we see Mo’s improved tackling. This time he is on an island in the open field. If he were to miss the tackle, a touchdown might have been imminent. This was a key moment in the game, and the Cowboys needed to make a stop. Claiborne comes up and makes a technically sound tackle at the line of scrimmage, and gets rightfully fired up.

Pass Coverage

While Claiborne’s tackling has certainly improved, it is in his coverage that he has made his biggest impact. We haven’t seen Mo play this well consistently in Dallas, but through two games, he looks to have it figured out.

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Kirk Cousins doesn’t thrown his way here, but Claiborne’s coverage is still picture-perfect. Mo is able to respect Desean Jackson’s speed by giving him space, while still keeping him locked up once Jackson tries to get downfield.

The key here was that Claiborne was able to avoid biting when Jackson tried to bait him into it, keeping his distance and staying on his track.

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I think the Redskins are still trying to throw the fade in the red zone right this very second. And they are probably still failing to complete it.

Josh Doctson (man, I wish someone else drafted him) was the target of a bunch of these fade routes Sunday, but on this one it is Claiborne who comes up with the great coverage to force the incompletion. Mo absolutely locks him down here, forcing him so far towards the sideline that even if he had caught it, there was no way he could’ve gotten two feet in bounds.

The ball falls incomplete, and Morris Claiborne looks like the hero. We haven’t seen too much of this during his first three years in Dallas, but his improvement from year 3 to year 4, and now from year 4 to year 5 is clear. And it is helping this otherwise reeling defense immensely.

What do you think?

Kevin Brady

Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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