LBs at a Glance: Sean Claffey

For all of you marking your calendars at home, DB week is over here at CowboyBlitz.com, and we've moved on to bigger and better things…literally. As planned and promised, we make our transition from showcasing a secondary of both the young and the experienced to a linebacking core that will likely be as good as most of us have ever seen as Cowboys fans.

This year's cornerbacks should be an exciting pair to watch after showing last season that they can shut down just about any passing attack…unless John Beck is throwing the ball. But we won't go there. Sorry to bring that up actually.

Anyway, despite fans' high hopes for the team's cover duo, their counterparts at the safety spots have a few more unanswered questions hanging over their heads. Coming off another year of fantastic pass defense, however, if there are concerns over the squad's ability to defend against the long ball, they aren't likely to cause much of a stir this early in the off-season. All in all, we feel pretty secure with our secondary. Hopefully they feel secure with us, too.

If fans have reason to be excited about the Cowboys' DBs, though, the team's linebackers should put them in an ungovernable trance of euphoric reverie…or something. Well, after they read all of our profiles, anyway.

At any rate, you have your transition. Now, on to the backers.

Today's feature figure is 6-foot-3, 227-pound senior Sean Claffey. A 12-game starter a year ago, Claffey has tremendous ability and has proven he can be one of the top linebackers in the conference. He's quick enough to cover a lot of ground which makes him excellent in pass coverage, and his speed also allows him to get behind the line and disrupt the offensive flow of the running game. Last season, he was one of the top defensive players in the league in tackles for a loss. He posted eight stops in the backfield for a loss of 28 yards, including three-and-a-half sacks.

Claffey's size (listed at 240 pounds a year ago) has always allowed him to be a physical defender, and in 2006, he racked up 37 total tackles (8th on the team). But according to Wyoming's roster, Sean actually stripped off 13 pounds over the last year, which should help him improve his agility but also raises questions as to whether he will maintain his physical dominance around the ball. With UW being far more effective against the pass than the run in past seasons, Claffey's ability to slow down opposing teams' ball carriers will likely be more important to the Pokes than how well he can cover.

Either way, Claffey's experience ought to make up for any physical disadvantage, real or imagined. Having played in every game the last two seasons, there is almost nothing the senior backer hasn't seen or won't be ready for when the Cowboys take the field for the first time this year.

All things considered, it has been hard for us to find a downside with Claffey. The more we've researched him, the more it seems like he can do just about everything. Although that's great for Coach Glenn and the rest of the Cowboys, it really isn't that interesting to write about—despite what you may think. And with three other starters just like him, or dare we say, better, we may have to fake an injury to spice things up around here this week.


Claffey's 2007 keys to success:

1. Stay physical and durable. At this point, the only real question with Claffey is whether the 13 pounds he's dropped over the last year will make a difference in his ability to lay the hurt on opposing team's receivers and running backs. We know he'll have the speed to run down just about anybody, but if he starts taking more punishment than he delivers, we could end up seeing Sean struggle with injury problems. Really, though, we're reaching here.

2. Keep on keeping on. What else can we tell the guy to do? He's shown that he's not only a playmaker, but a consistent defensive producer as well. In fact, if all four starting backers simply continue to play their game, the '07 core may be the toughest and most intimidating in the conference.


Claffey's 2006 stats:

21 solo tackles, 16 assists, 37 total, 8 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks; 1 pass broken up and 1 forced fumble


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