Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Cowboys 49-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

MVPs of the Secondary: Orlando Scandrick and Barry Church

Who woulda thunk it? Orlando Scandrick, the never flashy/always reliable 5th round draft pick out of Boise State and Barry Church, the undrafted free agent who worked his way into a starting role, are the MVPs of the Dallas Cowboys secondary.

Everyone knows the struggles of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense in recent years. Rod Marinelli marks the third Defensive Coordinator in as many years. The Cowboys have invested heavily in the secondary, yet they have fallen far short of even the most modest of expectations.

Highly-paid free agent acquisition, Brandon Carr, has been disappointing (to put it nicely) his two years in Dallas. 2011 #6 overall pick, Morris Claiborne, has been even more disappointing, playing without confidence, without technique, and all too often – injured.

Orlando Scandrick

Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) reach for the ball in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon (88) and Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) reach for the ball in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Scandrick has been the savior of the cornerback corps. He has been consistent and reliable. He’s able to play zone coverage and man coverage. He can play on the inside and the outside. He’s a willing tackler that isn’t afraid to blitz and make plays in the backfield.

He has done it all playing under very manageable contracts.

His most recent extension will lock him up for the next five years and pay a respectable $5M per year. For more on the value Scandrick offers, check out: Top Bargain Playersfor the Dallas Cowboys.

Call him the most consistent cornerback. Call him the most versatile cornerback. Call him the most important cornerback. I’m calling him the most valuable cornerback.

Barry Church

Barry Church is to the safety corps what Scandrickis to the cornerback corps.  Church, an undrafted free agent from Toledo, has been making plays ever since he signed with the Cowboys in 2010.

The 6’2” 218lb safety doesn’t possess mind-blowing speed or amazing athleticism. What he has is a nose for the ball and a mind for the game. He offers stability to a group that at times has been a complete cluster-fudge.

Church has the knowledge and versatility to play either safety role (SS or FS) with the Cowboys. This versatility is especially useful considering the Cowboys struggles to find him a suitable counterpart.

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys free safety Barry Church (42) during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys free safety Barry Church (42) during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In recent years the Cowboys placed a seemingly low-value on the safety position. Despite its struggles the Cowboys have been hesitant to invest a top draft pick or big free agent money in the safety position. Rightfully so when considering the failed performances of previously highly paid safeties, Roy Williams and Ken Hamlin, that resulted in crippling dead money.

Regardless of the reasons, the Cowboys have placed plenty on the shoulders of their one true proven safety, Barry Church. Barry Church has responded by providing consistent performance, willingness to play both positions, and mentoring of others.

Barry Church is a player that makes those around him better. If he was lost for an extended period of time there’s no telling what the result would be – but chances are it wouldn’t be good.

Church is the most versatile safety. He’s the most important safety. And I’m calling him the most valuable safety.

Neither Church nor Scandrick offer the highest ceiling of their respective groups. They might not be bubbling over with potential but they are playing at their peak levels, operating under very reasonable long-term contracts, and are entering the primes of their careers (Church 26, Scandrick 27).

That’s MVP in my book. Might not be flashy but look at this secondary. We don’t need flashy. We need more of these guys.

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Tags: Barry Church Dallas Cowboys Orlando Scandrick

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