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Cowboys Season Preview: How media, execs continue to underrate Diggs on-field impact

Cowboys Season Preview: How media, execs continue to underrate Diggs on-field impact

Trevon Diggs enters his third year with higher expectations than he had at the start of his sophomore campaign. That may be hard to believe since his second year saw him tie Everon Walls for the team record in interceptions previously set in 1981 (11).

Diggs was just the second player since 2007 to record double-digit interceptions during the regular season en route to being named a first-team All-Pro and receiving his first Pro Bowl nod.

Undeniably great accolades for a player who is still learning to master the cornerback position. However, Diggs does not plan on resting on past accomplishments.

“Be higher than last year … beat my 11 and just keeping going up, beating that,” Diggs said following their first open practice Wednesday.

Much has been said about whether Diggs deserves more praise or criticism for his play in 2021. Outside of Pro Football Focus stating he gave up the most yards allowed at his position, ESPN barely ranked Diggs as a top-10 corner, while Madden 23 has him ranked as the 14thbest CB in the game.

“I found things I need to work on, cleaning up my technique on the field,” Diggs said. “Nobody (is) perfect but trying to be perfect on the field and clean up some technical things.”

Diggs took to Twitter last week after talks about his yards allowed began to spread rapidly across social media.

It has essentially become one of the most overused metrics to discredit Diggs’ 2021 season. The last time the Cowboys had a corner receive All-Pro honors was 2018 when Byron Jones showcased he was one of the premier man-coverage corners in the NFL.

In 16 games, quarterbacks were 42-for-80 with two touchdowns and zero interceptions on a 52.5% completion rate.

In comparison to Diggs this year, quarterbacks were 54-of-103 with four touchdowns and 11 interceptions on a 52.4% completion rate.

Jones gave up 586 yards, while Diggs allowed 907 yards – both according to Pro Football Reference. Jones forced a quarterback rating of 84.7, while that number several dropped to 55.8 against Diggs. Not to mention Dallas only secured nine interceptions as a defense that year compared to the 26 this prior season.

In terms of how their play affected their overall defense: during Jones’ 2018 run the defense was 28th in average opponent plays, 24th in average time of possession per drive, 16th in yards per possession and 15th in average points per drive.

In 2021, those numbers vastly improved to first in average time of possession, second in average plays per possession, sixth in average yards per possession and fourth in average points per drive.
Overall, for those who did not watch Dallas play or chose not to go back and watch the film of the defense, it is easy to base your rankings of Diggs solely on the yardage allowed per game.

However, impactful defensive plays are what alter games. It’s easy to forget the main criticism of Jones – and the defense – while he was here was his failure to generate turnovers. Even with a 17th game on the schedule this year, the defense only gave up 100 additional yards.

Having a true lockdown corner is rare and an exceptional luxury to have. However, grading a corner solely on the number of yards he gives up is a lazy way to break down his impact on the game.

Staff Writer covering the Dallas Cowboys | Madden Legend | SFA Alum | Fascinated by Success

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