When the Cowboys traded up to get Morris Claiborne out of LSU in 2012, the thought was that they were getting a lockdown type of cornerback. Now in his fifth season, and on his second contract (a one-year deal), Mo is closer to the expectation than he's ever been.
We've seen a drastic increase in performance from Mo not just over these first four games, but over the 2015 season as well… despite all its pain and sadness. We're also coming off of a win that Morris helped ice with his late-game interception of Blaine Gabbert. Things are looking good in the Land of Claiborne.
The land an NFL cornerback inhabits is typically referred to an island, as in an island that he isolates the receiver he's covering on rendering said receiver completely useless due to outstanding coverage. The Land of Claiborne is a real thing and its recent visitors Odell Beckham Jr., DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Torrey Smith can all attest to that.
|The Land Of Claiborne, Est. 2016||Targets||Catches||Yards||TDs|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||8||4||73||0|
This is a pretty impressive resume for a corner that was only given a one-year “prove it” contract this past offseason. Proving it, is putting what Mo has done lightly.
Members of Cowboys Nation have observed The Land of Claiborne in action this season and professed that he finally is the shutdown guy we all expected four years ago. Detractors say that the quality of receivers he's faced, as listed above, aren't exactly perennial and aren't an indication of anything other than perhaps coincidence. What we need… is a litmus test.
AJ Green: The Land Of Claiborne Litmus Test
The Cincinnati Bengals bring to town one of the NFL's most dangerous weapons in AJ Green. While news came out on Wednesday that their star tight end Tyler Eifert likely won't make his season debut this week as expected, that absence hasn't hindered AJ so far this season.
Through four games Green is sitting on a league-leading 32 catches, 468 yards, and 2 touchdowns. His most recent performance, a home victory over the Dolphins last Thursday night, was his second-most impressive as he reeled in 10 catches for 173 yards and a score. Second-most! That's his second best performance (he outperformed this stat line in Week 1 against the Jets).
This is far and away the biggest challenge Morris Claiborne will face to date, and arguably the best individual challenge he'll face all season. Based on what we've seen through the first quarter of the season, Mo is more than up to the task.
AJ Green is more than someone who will cause Mo Claiborne distress this week – AJ Green is The Land of Claiborne Litmus Test. If Mo is able to lock down AJ Green then we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is in fact the Mo Claiborne we believe him to be.
He is that Mo. You know. I know. On Sunday, AJ Green will know. Huzzah.