The comments Morris Claiborne made on Tuesday about the Dallas Cowboys‘ zone coverage scheme should scare the heck out of everyone in the DFW area. His complaints are a huge red flag that should signal the end of his short tenure with the team because they resemble the underlying theme — and problem — that has plagued the Cowboys for the better part of the last two decades.
Claiborne has been abused by opposing offenses this year, especially in the Cowboys’ games against the New York Giants and San Diego Chargers. Pro Football Focus says Claiborne has allowed 15 completions on 23 passes against him for 272 yards this season, which ranks him 99th among 101 cornerbacks listed on on their site.
So basically, Claiborne is just whining because he’s getting roasted on the field and in the media by virtually everyone in the Cowboys’ organization. But instead of talking about how he can improve in Monte Kiffin‘s 4-3, Tampa 2 defense, Claiborne is blaming the scheme for not only his woes, but the entire defense’s.
“It’s not where it needs to be to be able to play corner. We’re not the same type of team that we were last year. We’re not assigned guys and you go wherever he goes, you follow him wherever he goes and that’s your man. Now we’re basically a zone team. Everything is new to everybody,” Claiborne told ESPN.
In that one statement, Claiborne spoke volumes about himself as a player and as a person. He criticized the defense his coach used to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he revealed his lack of intelligence, he created doubt about his work ethic and he ignorantly tried to throw his teammates under the bus.
If Claiborne isn’t smart enough to do what his coaches tell him to do, even though it may be different than just following one guy all over the field, then he doesn’t belong in the NFL. If he doesn’t have the drive to learn this new defense that has proven successful, then he doesn’t belong in the NFL. And if he’s dumb enough to think all of his teammates are in the same boat as he is, then he definitely doesn’t belong in the NFL.
The zone defense isn’t plaguing all of Dallas’ cornerbacks because Orlando Scandrick has played relatively well in the games that saw Claiborne get torched, as weird as that may sound. But then again, Scandrick hasn’t cried to the media when he’s been abused by opposing offense in the past, either.
The biggest concern about Claiborne’s sudden revelation is the way he described his psyche when an opposing receiver catches a pass against him. He basically said that every time that happens, he loses confidence and then plays worse for the rest of the game. After a remark like that, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett should get rid of Claiborne as quickly as possible. He is obviously the definition of a mentally-weak player on a team that is the prime of example of a mentally-weak squad and that simply won’t end well for either party.
No matter how talented Claiborne is or how much potential he possesses, a player with his attitude and outlook on life is a cancer to a team like the Cowboys. He’s obviously doing more harm than good on the field and that’s certainly the case in the locker room, so trading him now while his stock is still decent is the best thing for Dallas. Sure, having to trade a first-round pick in his second year is a huge disappointment for a franchise, but it won’t be nearly as much of a setback for the Cowboys as keeping Claiborne. He will doom Kiffin’s defense before it even gets its feet wet in 2013, and that will create a domino effect within the organization that will only ensure another decade of mediocrity.