As frequently as Trevon Diggs snatched the ball away from opposing quarterbacks last season, he received hate and criticism from both fans and the media.
Some called the Dallas Cowboys cornerback a boom-or-bust player, some graded him as a bad corner with luck, and some even questioned his worthiness of the “First-Team All-Pro” title, which was bestowed upon him by the Associated Press.
The majority of these detractors ignored what style of defense Diggs was playing for Dan Quinn and what kind of philosophy the defensive coordinator wanted in Dallas.
But in 2022, with some adjustments from both the cornerback and the defensive mastermind, Diggs is looking like an elite player in coverage. And most haters have gone missing.
Clearly, the Cowboys ball-hawk is a better risk manager nowadays. He might not be accumulating picks and QBs’ souls as outrageously as he did in 2021 but he’s also not getting burnt.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been productive, though.
Through 11 weeks this season, Diggs has the second most PBUs in the NFL (9), second most interceptions (3), and boasts a Top 10 PFF coverage grade (subjective but a sign of improvement in the eyes of one of its major detractors last season).
This season, the Cowboys cornerback already silenced big-time receivers like Terry McLaurin and Justin Jefferson (whom he actually shadowed on Sunday).
But the Dallas defense is also playing way less man-to-man coverage and using more two-high defensive looks (which provide help over the top). Perhaps that would explain how Diggs has given up less explosive plays.
However, it’s tough to know exactly why Diggs is looking better in coverage on tape and numbers-wise.
Yet there’s one clear reason why the Cowboys cornerback has improved
Simply put, defenders have to make tackles. Whether you’re talking about a defensive lineman, linebacker, or defensive back, you’ve got to tackle in the NFL.
The Cowboys’ top corner has dramatically improved this aspect of his game. Right now, he owns the 6th lowest missed tackle rate in the league among qualifying cornerbacks per PFF.
That’s a significant improvement after ranking 31st in the league at the end of last year.
In the clip above you can see Diggs doing something he’s been no stranger to this season. Matched up against Justin Jefferson, who’s known as one of the best receivers in the game, the Cowboys cornerback closes down on him and wraps him up in the open field.
That seems like a routine play, maybe. But I doubt there’s anything common about doing that against the guy with the fifth-most yards after the catch in the NFL.
While many focus on the coverage aspect of things (the main job of a cornerback, of course), don’t overlook this obvious reason for improvement. Your favorite Cowboys’ defensive back is bringing guys down.
Featured image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports