Oct 6, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) catches a pass while defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) during the first quarter of the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys’ Secondary was/is the Problem

Oct 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) gets away from Dallas Cowboys free safety Barry Church (42) and defensive back Jeff Heath (38) during the first quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Mailbag

I put a clock on how much time it took for QB’S to get the ball out(when playing the Cowboys). It’s below league average. and look at Wares QB hurries, He had 33 of them. That tells me it’s our DB’S. It doesn’t matter how good your line is if your DB’S can’t cover. I’m not saying our line was good – not at all – I’m saying, don’t set yourself up for failure by putting all your eggs in one basket because both parts go together. Carr is a waste and our safeties are a joke. We need someone with an eye for talent to come in and save Cowboy Nation.

- Coach Eric

You’re exactly right. I hate our secondary. HATE. They share equal (if not more blame) for the defensive failures of 2013. For what the Cowboys have invested in the secondary, there is no reason they shouldn’t be at the top of the league. Brandon Carr is paid like a top 5 CB yet he is ranked in the bottom half of the league. Saying that is being generous because he was terrible last season in nearly every part of his game. Even when playing man coverage, he was embarrassing.

Equally as sad is Morris Claiborne. The #6 overall pick was dubbed the best prospect since Deion Sanders. So far he’s a certifiable bust. When a team invests a top 10 pick in a player, that player MUST perform. Considering the Cowboys moved up to draft him forgoing an additional pick, it makes the situation even worse.

Both CBs are talented. They both have good ball skills and good hands. Their problem is between the ears. Hopefully the Cowboys can scheme change to more man coverage this offseason as that fits with their skills a little better. In the end it will be up to them to perform and I’m not so optimistic about that.

Safety play was also atrocious. Barry Church is an acceptable in-the-box safety (SS) but the Cowboys don’t have a true ball-hawking safety (FS). Add that to the list that must be addressed before the Cowboys become legitimate contenders.

You’re also right about “putting all their eggs in one basket”. Just because the DL is wide open doesn’t mean the Cowboys should only draft defensive linemen. They have needs at numerous places and should strike a balance between drafting for need and best player available. Doing one without the other is a formula for failure.

Thanks again Coach Eric!

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson


Tags: Barry Church Brandon Carr Dallas Cowboys Morris Claiborne

  • Juanito Juanito

    because clairborne and carr are players for a men to men scheme 3-4, easy, and cowboys play 4-3 now

  • Old Frog

    Anytime you draft a player with a Wonderlic of 9 you are betting 100% on their instincts because it’s pretty obvious they don’t have the smarts to analyze complex schemes and adjustments. A cornerback needs to be able to process more than “kill, Bubba, kill!” I hope Jerry and the gang don’t make that mistake again.

    • Reid Hanson

      I agree. Intelligence is very underrated in scouting and some dumb players have hurt the Cowboys over the years. For the most part, Garrett seems to prefer and target intelligent players – which is something. Sadly, I believe Claiborne actually had a wonderlic score of 4 which by most accounts translates to an IQ bordering mentally handicapped (I’m not being mean – it really is boarderline). I don’t actually think Mo is handicapped – he said he blew it off because it didn’t have anything to do with football. I think it really showed he wasn’t interested in working for something unless he had to, which explains why he looks so lost and hesitant on the field. I blame everyone on this but they still have time to teach and develop him so all hope is not lost.

      • CowboysWin

        The biggest day of your life – chance to make millions and you blow off a test your interviewers give you because it isn’t about football. Yeah that makes perfect sense. – come on man.

  • SmartThinking

    There’s a lot of truth in this story, particularly re: the Dallas secondary. In neaarly every game, those guys got torched again and again. Most of the time they looked helpless and at a loss for what to do. Much of that can be laid at the feet of the coaches. They’re not off the hook on this count.

    According to the Cowboys website, big Jones and Garrett appear much more confident in their CB’s and Safeties that anyone else I know. An article today suggests they’re placing their faith in the guys they’ve got.

    If this is true, then big Jones’ new “I’m a changed man” philosophy goes right out the window, at least with me.

    • Reid Hanson

      One of our writers at Sport DFW happens to have a source in the Cowboys org. That source provided insight to what kind of priority the Cowboys are really placing on FS in this draft. Look for an article soon on the subject but I don’t think you’ll be happy with what the Cowboys are planning.

  • David

    Can I get an Amen. Finally someone talking about arguably the biggest need on the team right now in the FS. Ill say it a thousand times. I dont care how good the D-line is, eventually usually in the playoffs they will run up against an equally good or better O-line. In these games the Safeties have to be able to cover and be in good position. I do not know how many times last year the safeties especially the FS was out of position and taking poor angles. I think the Safeties have a whopping 2 picks in the last two years. Dallas has tried to address this long standing problem with FA’s, UDFA’s and mid round project picks. It has not worked. The last safety that went to the pro bowl was Roy Williams. And what round was he drafted in. The first round. I am not saying all first round picks pan out but they sure have a higher probability and should.

    • Reid Hanson

      One of our writers at Sport DFW happens to have a source in the Cowboys org. That source provided insight to what kind of priority the Cowboys are placing on FS in this draft. Look for an article soon on the subject but I don’t think you’ll be happy with what the Cowboys are planning.

      • David

        Well that is quite disappointing because for quite some years their safety priority has been low. And for quite some years borderline decades their secondary has been average to garbage. Even when Dallas had a great pass rush in Ware’s and Spencers prime they were terrible. In todays pass happy NFL the safeties have to be able to cover and make plays. I think in the last two the Safeties have maybe two picks. That is horrendous. I mean all you have to do is look at the last SB. Manning broke the completion record because he adjusted to the pass rush and started making short to intermediate passes. Seattle’s secondary was right there to make plays and be in good positions. And look at the results.
        The Cowboys horrible philosophy of drafting mid round project players from small schools has been a major bust. They have also added UDFA’s to this group which has also been a major bust. The last legit Pro Bowl safety they drafted was Roy Williams. And what round did they draft Roy in, the First round. So no offense but I hope the “source” was blowing a smoke screen.

        • Reid Hanson

          That’s possible too. The cowboys have always loved smokescreens.

          • David

            Well for the sake of the team I hope it is. If you look at the 6 key positions of the Tampa 2 Marinelli runs, the FS is number 6. Signing Melton gives them flexibiliy inthe first round to go after a Pryor or Dix in my opinion. Now they also have needs at DE in the 6 key positions, but I believe the value will be better in round 2 where they could probably get a Crichton, Reilly or Murphy.

        • CowboysWin

          drafting an average safety in the 1st round when it’s deep in other areas (holes) this team needs isn’t good either though. This safety class is not good. Maybe Ward in the 2nd or 3rd but first round is only SS and the difference between the two big names and Church isn’t much. CBs are good this year and that idea is growing on me since both our CBs got consistently burned last year. But no way we should forego a Donald or Jernigan to draft dix or Pryor – big mistake.

          • David

            You should study up more on the top two safeties. A lot of draft analysts have them in the top 20 players overall. After that there is a good drop off to the next tier. And the fact that you put Jernigan who be the 1 tech in Dallas scheme shows you dont know who the key players are in Marinelli’s Tampa 2. And lastly Marinelli wants to rotate the D-line with 8 or 9 guys. So why would you draft a part time rotational player with the 16th pick.

          • CowboysWin

            you just said they want to rotate 8-9 guys and then ask why we would draft a rotational player. Uh, because good players tend to play better than bad players. Would you rather have Hayden and McClain in there and force the secondary to cover for 7 seconds or a good DLinemen and cover for 3 seconds? Or are you saying it’s no big deal because they’ll only be a liability for half the snaps since they’re rotating? Sounds like maybe you should study up. BTW – watching analysts is not exactly studying.

            These 2 are not much better than Wilcox or Church so why give away a 1st rounder for them. We need a ballhawk.

          • David

            Ok Ive actually watched film on both Pryor and Dix and both are by far better ball hawks than Wilcox or Church. Oh wait no Church and Wilcox had 1 pick between them and were getting abused in coverage. And you are clueless Hayden and McClain role as the 1 tech. There is a reason they passed on Floyd last year. Because he was viewed as a 1 tech.

          • CowboysWin

            Well since you’ve watched film, I will change my mind. Hayden and McClain are 1 Techs so therefore we couldn’t possibly upgrade the DL this year. Thanks for the new logic. And since you said these 2 SS are far better than Wilcox and Church (Church will be playing SS, not FS BTW), I’m now convinced! Give me a SS to play FS in the 1st. Good argument. Well thought out. Reasoned with great analysis and expertise. touch of big mouth sarcasm and mouthy arrogance. Just excellent, excellent!

          • David

            Yeah I can tell you are so knowledgeable about football. Why dont you go read the play by plays in the box scores of the games from espn. And you can see all the times Church and WIlcox got roasted for big games. But let me guess, just draft 5 d-lineman and that will make Wilcox and Church all-pros. GTFO here already.. You clearly have no fn concept of where the biggest needs of the Tampa scheme they run. Here why dont you read up and maybe you can learn something instead of just talking out your assss..


          • CowboysWin

            OMG – just when I thought you had no more knowledge left to spare, you go and redeem yourself with this nugget – just brilliant! The barber shop will be so proud. Oh yes the scheme – yeah. Not sure where the Tampa scheme says you need 2 SS on the field together. this team needs a ballhawk! Let me try to offer you some help again, you can take full credit at the barber shop.

            With a bad DL, no push and a lot of running yardage, making the offense less predictable (that is a bad thing). Dix projects as an in-the-box safety. How many interceptions and forced fumbles did he have in 2013? Ballhawks fly around the field, not stand next to the line laying big hits. That is a SS. Then, there are different coverages you need to read about – maybe the suntimes or ESPN can help you find some cool articles on that. Example: look up 1 high or 2 high, playing nickel and dime packages – you’ll be less angry and constipated. You don’t just plug a SS in there and he is great because you draft him in the 1st and then he can play both SS and FS over the top. You have to have the right people. If you have to draft safety, get a Jimmie Ward type in the 2nd (hopefully bigger) at FS and get a strong pass rush. Don’t know if they’ll be all pro but they will be much better than your crappy DL and eight seconds of coverage from Ha Ha – which is what the receivers and RB will be saying to your plan each game. I might draft 5 DL, but also include DE, G/T, and maybe WR. Heavy on DL and DE, depending on what was available. Sorry, man – you might see a psych – you just gotta learn how to say no to Dix.

          • David

            LMAO Dix projects as an in the box Safety? Class dismissed you have no clue about football..

          • David

            And by the way if you have paid any attention to what I have posted, I like Pryor the best of all safeties. Read up on him..


          • CowboysWin

            well well – looks like we agree, but I would not take either of them at 16. If we trade back to the mid 20s, maybe, but expand your defensive outlook – look at Verrett, Shazier, Crichton, Murphy, Tuitt, McGill, Jimmie Ward, and Kareem Martin. A trade down lands possibly 2 of this group. With a team with this many holes on the defense, I’ll take that instead of one of those safeties every day.

  • Earl Robertson

    Don’t forget Scrandrick. True he was probably the best CB last year but that is like saying Bin Laden was a better person then Hilter

    • Reid Hanson

      Well said!