The Dallas Cowboys gave up a lot to get Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne on the team. In Carr, they gave up $50.1 million in free agency; in Claiborne they gave up draft picks to move up and take him sixth overall. To this point, the returns have been mixed, to put it kindly. Carr put together a decent 2012 season, but last year was one of his worst. Even he admitted to it and he knows that he needs to rebound in 2014. Based on his contract numbers, another poor year this season would mean Carr could be released. Claiborne's two seasons in Dallas have been a battle against nagging injuries as much as it has been a battle against opposing receivers. Last year, Orlando Scandrick took Claiborne's job and became the best corner on the team, surpassing Carr. Not exactly what the Cowboys expected a couple of years ago.
We already know that Carr is proclaiming this a bounce-back year, not only for him for for all the secondary.
"I said myself, I know I should've said ‘we,' because it's a team sport," Carr said, referring to fellow cornerbacks such as Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne. "Hopefully my mentality can trickle over to the other guys. No one expects us to do well. So let's take it over. We have all the tools, the camaraderie and the chemistry should be well."
Camaraderie is something Carr and Claiborne are working on off the field. Carr just held a football youth camp, and Claiborne was there to help.
Carr returned to his alma mater Flint Carman-Ainsworth High School Saturday, June 14 to bring his 2014 Elite Football Camp to his hometown for free.
"This was a special day because when I first entered the league this was something that I envisioned to come back and giving back to the city that raised and produced me into the person that I am today," Carr said. "This is the right time to come back to show these young guys the right way."
Carr's Cowboys teammate Morris Claiborne showed up as well as former St. Louis Ram Clifton Ryan and his former Grand Valley State teammate Cam Bradfield of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Claiborne and Carr are steady building camaraderie off the field and the former Louisiana State star admires [Carr's] passion to help the youth in his community.
"Brandon and I came in [to the Cowboys] at the same time and he pretty much took me under his wing with trying to teach me how to be a pro and he's still doing that now," Claiborne said. "Anytime we're around each other we're trying to make the best of it. He's not the type that sugarcoats anything he will tell you how it is and that's one of the things I like about him."
Okay, let's not sugarcoat it, you guys weren't up to standards last season. One of the best hopes for Dallas' defense is for these two to play up to their talents. Maybe Rod Marinelli can be the difference.
When Marinelli was defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears (from 2010 to 2012) the defense was great, but also had Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman at the height of their superhuman ability. This allowed Marinelli to run defensive schemes without a ton of extra defensive backs -- you knew Jennings and Tillman could be trusted to cover receivers without a lot of safety help.
Can Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr similarly step up? We haven't seen it yet, but Kiffin didn't let them press much despite both being better at man coverage. Marinelli ran more single-safety looks with the Bears, so we can expect a less Tampa-2 looking secondary with more responsibility on the corners.
If they can't pull that off, the front seven will have too little time to get to the quarterback and the defense will break down like last year.
So BTB, what are your thoughts? Will Carr and Claiborne make a difference this year with positive play? Or will Carr play his way out of Dallas and Claiborne start looking at the "bust" label?