CB Orlando Scandrick Good, Just Not a Playmaker


Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

To describe Orlando Scandrick and his game I use a popular phrase I absolutely despise, He is what he is. I hate that phrase because that kind of statement offers no insight and is a general cop-out for offering any sort of critical analysis. But sometimes it just fits. Let me explain…

Recently I mentioned Scandrick as one of the Top Bargain Players on the Dallas Cowboys and even named him as an MVP of the secondary. He’s a really good player for this team but we all need to tap the breaks a little bit. Scandrick just isn’t a playmaker and will likely never be one.

Orlando Scandrick was never handed a thing as a pro. He had to fight for every opportunity, every start, and every play. From the day the Cowboys drafted him back in 2008, the 5th round pick has had to fight for everything. Whether battling Mike Jenkins or Morris Claiborne, Scandrick never shied away from a fight. At times he even took a starting spot away from the aforementioned first round picks.

Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver

Marvin Jones

(82) runs with the ball after making a catch while defended by Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) in the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Given his work ethic and fighting nature, it’s no wonder he’s still improving six years into his NFL career. That’s one of the benefits of getting drafted so young. Scandrick was only 21 when the Cowboys drafted him. 27 years old now, Scandrick’s game has fully matured and he’s just entering his physical prime.

2013 was arguably his best season as a Cowboy. He started as the nickel corner but soon assumed a starting role in place of the injured and under-performing Morris Claiborne. after another year in the system, it’s possible he may even improve in 2014.

"“I’m trying to get a little better”, says Scandrick. “I’m a veteran player and I just need to get better. I don’t feel like I’ve reached my ceiling yet.”"

But as reported by Calvin Watkins, Scandrick went on…

"“…I need to focus on making plays that I can make. Start watching the tape in the offseason and I can think of games where I dropped interceptions: Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia. These are plays where I’ve got to make the play.”"

Aaaaaaaand there it is.

Scandrick is a fantastic defensive back but he can never seem to make the big play. In 2013 he was only able to pick off two passes. Those two INTs are only the fourth and fifth of his six year career. He’s had opportunities throughout his career but he never quite seems to make the play.

To expect his new focus (something he’s mention each of the past two offseasons as his focus also) to suddenly yield notable results is a tad too optimistic for me. But Scandrick has a plan.

"“Just focusing on catching the ball and looking the ball in,” said Scandrick. “When you catch it you’ve got to see it into the pocket.”"

Even though Scandrick is choosing to focus on the catching, doesn’t mean all of his missed opportunities are just dropped balls. Watching his gameplay it seems out of nature. He’s not a natural ballhawk. He rarely even looks back at the ball.

Playing the nickel corner he usually covering the slot receiver. The slot receiver plays at a decided advantage because, unlike the outside receiver positions who are limited in direction because of the sideline, the slot receiver can cut in any direction. This places the nickel corner in “chase mode” making it very difficult to play the ball.

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; .Chicago Bears wide receiver

Alshon Jeffery

(17) makes a catch over Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Scandrick has had numerous simple opportunities where he just didn’t look for the ball. There is nothing wrong with that style it just rarely reaps INTs as a result. Scandrick has given up play after play where he displayed solid coverage and a catch was made in spite of it.

Scandrick is one of the best players on this Dallas Cowboys defense. He is signed through 2018 to an extremely reasonable contract which averages only $5M.

He’s a willing tackler and displays good versatility in coverage, able to cover in both man and zone schemes. No DB stands to gain more by a strong Cowboys pass-rush than Scandrick. His zone skills will allow him to sit back and wait for the pass-rush to force the QB into a mistake. While the pass-rush might improve in 2014, it shouldn’t be expected to provide much more than adequate pressure.

Much like the other two CBs, Scandrick will have to improve his game on his own. He can’t rely on a rag-tag defensive line to make this easy for him. Scandrick is finally becoming a fan favorite in Cowboys Land and rightfully so. He deserves the love.

But be careful with too lofty of expectations. Scandrick is never going to suddenly become a ballhawk and playmaker. At this point, He is what He is. And that’s just fine with me.

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