The inability to defend the pass is what cost the Dallas Cowboys dearly in 2011. Big D allowed an average of 244 passing yards per game and ranked No. 23, but did get 42 sacks.
Dallas trades to 6 and St. Louis. Wow.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 27, 2012
Then, we all saw the Cowboys take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at the No. 6 position, which is a perfect move by Dallas. Let's take a look at why and how Claiborne fits Big D so well.
Between 2010 and 2011, Morris Claiborne collected 11 interceptions and returned them for 274 yards. That's an average of almost 25 yards per interception return. In addition, Claiborne defended 23 total passes.
He's a cornerback who simply knows how to react, when to react and what to do with the ball after making a turnover. Considering how potentially explosive the Dallas offense can be, having roughly 25 less yards to gain after a sudden change is a major advantage.
Not to mention, Claiborne also served as a kick returner. There, Morris compiled 552 yards on 22 returns and one touchdown. Expect him to expand that special teams role for the Cowboys and make a lot of big plays for Big D.
After not contributing much as a freshman in 2009, Morris Claiborne was challenged quite often as a sophomore in 2010. There, he defended 11 passes, got five picks and made 37 tackles. Certainly not a bad season as a first-year contributor, but in 2011 he took it to another level with six picks, 12 defended passes and 51 tackles.
Claiborne in Dallas will be paired opposite of Brandon Carr, and the pass-rushing skill set of DeMarcus Ware will allow him to get acclimated to NFL speed. He's already a strong man-coverage defender and has the instincts to feel the routes when in zone.
The NFC East receiving corps will surely test his overall talent early on, but since Claiborne developed fast in the SEC, he'll manage quite well through training camp and thereafter.
Area of Need
As previously mentioned, the Cowboys were horrendous against the pass in 2011, and it ruined their season.
Dallas got swept by the Giants and Eagles, and allowed an average of almost 28 points per game in those losses. So, getting a more consistent coverage was needed to shutdown explosive offenses like New York, Philadelphia and now Washington.
The Redskins have an upgraded receiving corps and increased expectations for 2012 as well. Claiborne has the immediate ability to takeaway half the field, and with Carr locking down opposite, the Cowboys can blitz their linebackers a lot more.
This then obviously creates more pressure and forces an offense to become one-dimensional. Anticipate a big season from safety Gerald Sensabaugh, because he'll be freed up to make more plays over the top and/or rolling down to fill a zone for a blitzing 'backer.
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