|Steven Van Over - SportsTalkLine.com|
1/2 of the CB Duo
In the 11th round of the 1978 draft the Cowboys tabbed little known Dennis Thurman, a 5th year safety from USC, who made the team as a cornerback. In 1980 he won the starting free safety gig. In 1981 Charlie Waters retired, they moved Benny Barnes to safety and Thurman (#32) to start at right cornerback.
That same year (1981), every team in the league passed over Grambling University standout Everson Walls in the draft, giving Dallas the chance to sign him as a UDFA. Deemed too slow to play in the NFL after being clocked at a pedestrian 4.7 in the 40, Walls impressed the moment he walked on the field. Landry started the rookie (that in and of itself was a record of sorts) at left cornerback, and paired with Dennis Thurman, the two of them had one of the best years of any two corner backs in the history of the NFL. This according to NFL films who ranked them #10 in their "Top Ten CB Tandems of All Time" production. Walls had 11 interceptions and made the Pro Bowl that year. These two guys had WR mentality once the ball was in the air. It gave Tom Landry incredible freedom as his two CB's could lock down any pair of WR's in the league. The two players clicked, feeding off the other's exploits. Walls became one of the first shut down corners as teams were afraid of throwing to his side. He took to baiting QB's into interceptions (according to Joe Thiesman), leading to a classic Tom Landry interview. When queried about Walls penchant for giving up a big play from time to time, a "smiling" Tom Landry replied:
"he gets a couple, they get a couple. That kind of offsets each other."And indeed it did. Teams started throwing to the other side and Thurman responded in a big way, picking off nine interceptions of his own. Opposing QB's were left with the center of the field and little else. The edges and over the top were off limits. The entire defensive backfield got the fever and became known as "Thurman's Thieves" as he tutored the younger players under his veteran leadership wing. Doomsday was in full effect with the Manster, the Beautiful Harvey Martin and Ed Too-Tall Jones roaming the opposing teams backfield with menace. The two things, the DLine and the CB's, complimented each other. Everson Walls himself stated he got so many interceptions (57 over his career), because of playing behind Too-Tall, as QB's had to try and throw around him. Synchronicity between the DLine and the CB's was defined in Dallas.
Fast forward to 2012 and Brandon Carr (#39) being paired with rookie Morris Claiborne (#24). I agree, there is a big jump between UDFA and a number six pick in the draft. However, the theme here is the bringing together of two CB's that can lock down the opposing starting WR's. This gives the DLine more time to get to the QB. Conversely there will be times Ware or Ratliff's pressure causes errant throws that our CB's can lay hands on. Claiborne's first pick was made thusly. The Dallas defense is having a very good year. The large number of interceptions have yet to materialize. However, Carr is showing veteran leadership that the other DB's seemingly embrace and the synchronicity between the Dallas front seven and the new starting CB's are having an effect on opposing teams. It doesn't matter who is the chicken and who is the egg. What matters is they are both here.
We have looked at the past and the present, now let us look to the future. In the coming drafts and off-seasons there are things Dallas will be looking for. A starting CB is not one of them. A Too-Tall Jones would be on my short list however!
Author: Steven Van Over