For TL;DR version, skip to bottom for results and conclusion In the 2012 draft the Cowboys traded up to get LSU CB standout, Morris Claiborne, trading away their 2nd round pick in the process. It was a move that was both praised and criticized, but for the most part, there were a lot of positive feelings about the new Cowboys corner. He didn’t quite live up to his “best since Deion” billing, but he was a promising rookie under Rob Ryan’s scheme. This year, he seems to be enemy number 1 in the secondary. It seems more obvious now than ever that he’s having trouble—especially after the blunders highlighted in the last game by the broadcast team at Fox. But I wanted to kind of dive into just how much he is struggling and in what areas. So I present to you… Morris Claiborne: An all-22 breakdown. Before I get into a bit of the film, first a few interesting notes: 1. If you did not notice during the live broadcast, Claiborne was the 3rd CB this game. Any time the Cowboys lined up with only 2 corners, it was Scandrick and Carr who were on the field. I only counted one instance where this was not the case, and for the most part, the Giants offense dictated whether or not Mo’ would be on the field by how many WRs they trotted out. 2. He was most susceptible to just about any kind of crossing route—it really did not matter who the WR was across for him. 3. He was inconsistent against the run. This article is going to be about his coverage skills, but he actually looked good early against the run, getting the first tackle from scrimmage. Or else it would have been Andre Brown with only Heath to beat. But he’s also the guy that completely misdiagnosed the big Jacobs run and let him bounce it outside, while embarrassing himself with a pathetic attempt at a diving tackle. 4. It may be my error, but I could only find 21 snaps in which Claiborne played against the pass while PFF has it listed as 22. THE FILM: 1. The only completion surrendered. "Bad Turn" This play was highlighted by the Fox crew, so I thought about not bringing it up at all. But I thought it was important to mention because we really didn't see this much from Claiborne last year. His biggest issue here is that he guesses completely wrong on what the route is... Overall his positioning on the field isn't poor, but you can tell by his body language that he's playing a go route rather than the deep in. Former LSU teammate, Reuben Randle, reads what Claiborne's body is telegraphing and breaks toward the middle of the field once Claiborne turns into a spring, leaving Mo' way out of position... A lot of open space and a easy 21 yard reception for Randle. The only positive here is that this is the only reception Claiborne would surrender in this game. 2. Signs of Decent Awareness This play was the 3rd and 13 conversion that ended the 1st quarter. All in all, Mo's coverage here is decent. There is a lot of cushion between he and Jernigan at the bottom of the screen, but if you'll notice, Mo is once again playing safe and playing the go route. He stays ahead of Jernigan, but lets Jernigan curl out since his route takes him on the wrong side of the 1st down marker. It's still a tough throw especially in the wind, so that cushion really isn't as grand as it seems. It's far from a 'shutdown', but I think Mo makese the right play in coverage... Sadly, that ball goes to Randle who has room to run, and Mo gets trapped in a block and can't make the play. So while Claiborne did some good here, he also was at fault for the 3rd and long conversion. 3. Pass interference Again, this is something the broadcast showed extensively, but I thought I'd mention it. Overall, Mo' bites on the slant fake from Randle and has no real shot at recovering to make a play on the ball, so he 'accidentally' cuts bump into Randle down the field. ll in all, I think Claiborne did a good job after he put himself in an awful position. As a CB, it's important to know when you're beaten. When you're beaten, you can't let them just waltz in if you can help it. You disrupt your guy and live to fight another day, so to speak. And that's what Claiborne did. He didn't pray that Eli would miss his guy down field, he interfered and got in the way. And honestly, he did almost made it look incidental. Where he screwed up? The arm bar... If he hadn't have thrown his arm out there, I think it's a tougher call for the ref as Mo' runs into the WR while looking back for the ball. Anyway, he gets beat, but saves 4 points with his interference as the Giants eventually end up kicking the FG. 4. Shutdown Okay. So I threw Claiborne a bone here. I thought about not calling this a shut-down because frankly Randle's route was doomed in the first place (A go route on 2nd and 30 with a safety shaded to that side anyway). But I guess I have to give credit even if it was a simpler assignment for our guy. It would have taken an extraordinary throw from Eli to have hit his man in this one. A weak shutdown, but a shutdown indeed. 5. Got away with one The last thing we'll look at is one of Mo's bigger mistakes of the game and it could have been extremely costly. At this time the score was 21-6 and it was the beginning of the 3rd quarter. First we see Claiborne with pretty decent position over the top of Randle, with Church underneath. But at the top of the route, Randle spins and turns the route back out into vacated space, which I've tried to illustrate above with a ... squiggly doo-dad. Claiborne slips when Randle makes his turn and the only reason he's able to recover is because he tugs the bottom of Randle's jersey (should've been defensive holding). Seconds later, the field looks like this... Claiborne is actually leaping in this picture as the ball is on its way to Randle who is pretty open and has 6 points in front of him. Luckily the front 7 was able to get a bit of pressure and Eli had to slide to his right making the angle a bit harder. From his view, the completion doesn't look so automatic. Claiborne was compromised but he somehow snuck back into the play. The Results: As I mentioned there were only 21 snaps in which Mo’ played against the pass. Out of those 21, 3 snaps were throwaway snaps for the purpose of this article: the Hailmary, and a zone and screen in which Claiborne didn’t really have much of an impact. Qualifying Snaps: 18 Successful Coverages: 11 Unsuccessful: 6 Shut-downs: 1 Targets: 4 Completions yielded: 1 (25% comp against) Yards yielded: 21 TDs yielded: 0 Pass break ups: 1 INTS: 0 Penalties: 1 Penalty yards: 18 Total yards: 39 Conclusion: Overall, Claiborne didn't have as bad of a game as this post would seem to indicate. In retrospect I realize that I highlighted mostly negatives, when in reality these were just the most interesting plays. He was successful on 66.6% of qualifying snaps which isn't awful, but it isn't good either. Still, watching Claiborne I don't feel very confident that he's going to make the right play. He's a talented guy, but he seems like he's a bit lost. He reminds me of myself when I would be lost playing cornerback. I would run really hard, work really hard, but it was all because I created more work for myself by not fully grasping what I needed to. We saw a lot more man coverage from Mo' (and Kiffin) this game, but it was still nothing to write home about. But I think once he's more comfortable, and more healthy in his role his positives will be more consistent and we'll have a quality starting corner. He is a very fluid player, but he needs to work on his foot work and play recognition when it comes to coverage. And against the run? The guy just is not a good fit. Hopefully he dedicates his time to improving that area. But to sum this article up. Claiborne wasn't completely putrid in this last game. Note: I did this in a hurry, so I may go back and fix some things later.