SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers is tackled by cornerback Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys in the second half at Qualcomm Stadium on September 29, 2013 in San Diego, California. The Chargers defeated the Cowboys 30-21. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Yes, Danny Woodhead made Bruce Carter look like Bobby Carpenter Sunday in San Diego. But I’m more worried about another Cowboys’ defender who was a high draft pick.
Where is Morris Claiborne?
The answer during Sunday’s second half against the Chargers was "on the bench." Claiborne was as invisible as he was abysmal, allowing rookie receiver Keenan Allen to grab five passes for 80 yards and be liability as Phillip Rivers threw for 401 yards in San Diego’s 30-21 victory.
No doubt Rivers picked on Claiborne.
"They hit a couple plays all over the field," said Claiborne. "But obviously they found more over there on the right side. Very frustrating."
How bad has Claiborne's season been? At this point Orlando Scandrick is a better cornerback. Yeah, yikes.
I realize he's been dealing with a dislocated shoulder, but there's no excuse for Claiborne's underwhelming body of work. Remember, the Cowboys traded up in the 2011 draft to select him with the sixth overall pick. Cowboys' scouts hooted about their steal, and revealed that they put a grade on Claiborne higher than anyone since Deion Sanders.
And now… this?
Simply put, Claiborne just doesn't make plays. Doesn't get beat deep. Doesn't blatantly fan on open-field tackles. Through 20 games of his NFL career he's just not what the Cowboys thought he'd be: a playmaker.
On his resume so far are only two signature plays. His lone NFL interception in the end zone against Cam Newton and the Panthers. And a 50-yard scoop-'n-score fumble return against the Eagles last December. That's it.
To exceed 8-8 expectations, the Cowboys need their average players to be good and their above-average players to be great. With Carter and Claiborne being only average, this team has no chance to be anything other than that as well.
Ready or not Mo Claiborne, here comes Peyton Manning.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.