Don’t give Trevon Diggs the DPOY just yet
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Trevon Diggs has been an absolute monster this season for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s limited some of the best receivers in the game to under 50 yards and hasn’t allowed a single receiver to record more than five receptions. He’s allowed only 465 yards with six interceptions through 16 games. Now, you’re probably thinking “Wait a minute. Somebody is trying to pull a fast one on us here. Diggs hasn’t played 16 games. We’re only through Week 5 of the NFL season.” That’s right. I have pulled off my most mischievous trick yet. Those numbers don’t belong to Diggs. They belong to Jets’ cornerback Darelle Revis in 2009.
Revis’s 2019 season is well-regarded as one of the greatest cornerback seasons of the 2000s. Between 2006 and 2016, no other defensive back could match the dominance of Revis that year.
I mean, just look at the gauntlet of receivers he had to go through: Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Randy Moss again. Revis didn’t just tread water against these stars, he went Michael Phelps-mode every week. He allowed just three receptions, 29 yards, and 0.19 touchdowns per game in 2009 —and he didn’t win the Defensive Player of the Year Award. It wasn’t even that close. Revis received just half the votes of the winner, Charles Woodson.
Now, let’s look at Diggs. Yes, Diggs is recording a lot of interceptions, and turnovers are great. However, he’s also on pace to be the worst coverage cornerback in the PFF era (2006-present). Diggs has allowed 329 yards through the air this season. That’s about 65 yards per game. That puts Diggs on pace to allow 1119 yards in a 17-game season. Since 2006, the most yards allowed by a cornerback is 1074. That dubious record was set by former Pittsburgh Steeler Antwon Blake in 2015. Diggs is on pace to destroy that record.
I know the tweet says Blake gave up that many yards in 2014, but he meant 2015. That’s beside the point though.
I constantly hear Cowboys fans laud Diggs for his ability to get picks, but are the picks worth it when Diggs is allowing so many yards? Diggs is the antithesis of Darelle Revis. Revis never recorded a ton of interceptions. His career high is just six. Yet Revis remained one of the most feared cornerbacks in the game because of his ability to lock down top receivers. Diggs doesn’t have that ability. Does that mean he’s an awful cornerback? No, but if you’re going to praise Diggs for the good he does, you have to look at the bad he does as well.
Diggs currently has the third-best odds to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, and while his base statistics look great, he hasn’t actually been all that effective in coverage. The Cowboys have allowed the second most passing yards in the NFL, and Diggs has been responsible for more than a fifth of them. That’s not DPOY material. I love Diggs. I love his potential. I love his big-play ability, but let’s cool it with the Defensive Player of the Year talk. If Revis didn’t deserve it, then Diggs definitely doesn’t.