Morris Claiborne has been a major addition to the Cowboys' defense. Where we once watched Terence Newman get consistently abused, we no longer have to sit through a game and yell at our televisions about how bad our cornerback play is. Honestly, it's pretty amazing that Claiborne has come into Dallas as a rookie and started every game this season.
Cornerback is one of the hardest positions in all of sports. The rules generally sway towards the wide receiver and the offense. The receiver also has the advantage of knowing where he is going, while the cornerback has to guess (correctly) where the route is going. Not only do you have to be a tremendous athlete, you also have to be smart. Understanding what the offense is doing will only enhance a cornerbacks ability to make plays on the football.
With that being said, Claiborne came to the Cowboys with huge expectations from the media and fan base. I know that I had high expectations for "Pick Six", but after 11 games, Claiborne only has one interception. Let's try not to look at the numbers and judge the impact Claiborne has had for the Cowboys this season. His ability to lock up a wide receiver on his own has brought an element not seen on the Dallas Cowboys in a very long time. Claiborne is going to be a great player for a long time, and the interceptions will start to come.
Basically, Claiborne had his rookie moments in only one game this season. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Claiborne was attacked from the beginning of the game. Even though he only gave up four receptions for 44 yards, one of those receptions was a Riley Cooper touchdown. Give Cooper credit though, he made an amazing one-handed catch in the end zone.
Penalties were the biggest issue that Claiborne had against the Eagles. He committed five penalties, one of which negated a Anthony Spencer interception. Keep in mind, Claiborne committed only one penalty at LSU last season. His performance in Philadelphia was one of his worst performances ever. It hurt him deeply, but Claiborne stood up in front of the Dallas locker room and told his teammates that what they saw from that day would never happen again.
To say that Claiborne is excited about this Sunday's game against the Eagles at Cowboys Stadium would be an understatement. Claiborne said he is definitely looking forward to taking on the division rival again.
"I look forward to every game, but just from my outing the last time against these guys, it’s a little bit more special, a little bit more to it for me,"
When you play the cornerback position, you have to have a short memory. Claiborne moved on quickly from his penalty-filled performance against the Eagles and hasn't allowed a touchdown or penalty in the last two games.
"And I know the penalties I had last time, they have no choice but to come try me. If I was on the opposing team, I would try me. I just have to prepare myself and get ready for it."
The Cowboys will be facing a rookie quarterback for the fourth straight game. If Andy Reid wants to test Claiborne again with Nick Foles, then he better be prepared. Claiborne has tremendous ball skills, but he just hasn't had the opportunities to intercept the football. If the Eagles test him, Claiborne will then get the platform to turn those targets into turnovers. I hope Foles tests #24, I really do. Claiborne is due for an interception, maybe two. This could be the game where he has his breakout game.