I admit it. While watching the Cowboys up-and-down performance against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the fan in me found plenty to blame CB Orlando Scandrick for. The nickel corner has been thrust into the starting lineup more often than not this year, as all of Dallas' top three corners have been oft-injured this season. Scandrick signed a five-year extension this off-season; a clear commitment from the Dallas front office that his near-future will be in Big D.
At the time, several people wondered what Scandrick had done to earn said extension; contemplating whether his performance in shells would translate into production when the snaps mattered. Scandrick was Dallas' best cornerback last season, which is a little like saying someone is the tallest midget then bending the rules and letting him on the roller coaster. The entire Cowboys secondary existed in disarray in 2010. Yet, matched up against the likes of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant in practice, Scandrick apparently was making great impressions.
On Sunday, Scandrick was called for an early defensive holding penalty that ended up not costing the Cowboys at all; Washington would punt on the drive. Later in the game, though, his miscues would prove very costly. On the Redskins game-tying drive at the end of the fourth quarter, Scandrick made several mistakes. Early in the drive, Redskins QB Rex Grossman found his fullback in the left flat, and Scandrick completely whiffed on the tackle, allowing him to gain 27 yards on the play. Later in the drive, he would commit his second defensive holding penalty, on a crucial 3rd and 2. Washington would later score to tie the game with 15 seconds left on the clock.
In the middle of it all, Scandrick was able to pick off Grossman, as pressure forced the QB to throw up a pop fly which Scandrick made a nice interception of. Even still, one would be remiss to say that Scandrick played a good game.
This isn't the only time that Scandrick has had a lackluster performance in 2011. Pro Football Focus, which grades players on a play-by-play basis over the entire season, has graded Orlando negatively over each of the last four games. Of course, theirs are subjective opinions being given objective grades, but more often than not they do a great job of quantifying individual play.
After the game, Scandrick admitted he could have played better, but bristled at reporter's suggestions that he's pressing because of the new contract. A concept I find silly for the same reason as Scandrick.
"How am I pressing?" Scandrick said. "What are you telling me that I can’t play in a full-time role, 'cause that’s not [difficult] at all. I get two penalties and give up one catch and all of a sudden I can’t play anymore. I don’t get it. I didn’t sign an extension here to play a backup role so it is what it is. I don’t know one good corner in this league who didn’t have a penalty in a game or give up a catch." - ESPN
Well, according to PFF, he gave up two catches, but you say tomato...
Regardless, even top corners struggle. Just ask any honest Philadelphia fan how they feel about the investment in Nnamdi Asomugha this offseason. He's played his share of lockdown games this season; shutting out Dez Bryant and Larry Fitzgerald. He's also allowed Victor Cruz to eat his lunch, twice, and committed an outrageous number of penalties (6) and missed tackle attempts (9). As Scandrick said, there isn't a good corner in this league who doesn't have an off day. Or several.
The good news for Orlando is that with Dallas' five-year commitment, he will be afforded every opportunity to redeem himself; especially given Terence Newman's and Mike Jenkins' inability to stay on the field for extended stretches. The money they gave him, $27 million total and $10 million guaranteed isn't number one corner money; but it is an investment made at starting player rates.
Cowboys fans all over hope to see Scandrick bounce back, proving that Jerry Jones didn't in fact give a contract extension to a player a bit too soon.