Aikman Compares Diggs To Facing Deion in 1990s


If there's anyone who should be able to weigh in on the Trevon Diggs debate and how his play is comparable to Deion Sanders, it would be Troy Aikman.

Not only has Aikman called three of the Cowboys' five games this year as the No. 1 analyst for Fox, but he faced Sanders numerous times in the 1990s before he joined the Cowboys and subsequently went against him in practice on a daily basis.

And for starters, Aikman sounds a bit uncomfortable comparing Diggs, or anyone for that matter, to Sanders.

"I hear a lot about shutdown corners and I laugh about it because Deion was truly the only shutdown corner that I know, and there have been some great corners beside Deion," said Aikman this week on 1310 "The Ticket" in Dallas. "But Deion would go weeks without a ball being thrown in his direction. for us when we played against Deion, we threw at him. When he was Atlanta and when he was in San Francisco, I didn't shy away from throwing it to him in his direction because he was going to travel with Mike [Irvin] and there was no way we could just say, 'Well, we're not going to throw the ball to Mike.' And, so, Mike, he caught some balls, and then Deion won his share, too."

As for Diggs, Aikman said he doesn't expect teams to shy away from him completely, especially if he's taking the No. 1 receiver, as he's done often this year with Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, DJ Moore and last week with Kenny Golladay, who didn't catch a pass.

"You just got to be smart about it," Aikman said. "As a quarterback, you just have to know when you can make a throw and when the coverage is a little too tight because he is like a receiver when the ball came to his area, and that's how he was able to intercept so many passes. So, with Trevon [Diggs], when you talk about [Mike] Glennon trying to make that throw, when you're throwing the ball down the field like that with someone as fast as Trevon is, or as Deion was — Deion was a faster player than Michael. So, you're really risking it when you're trying to get the ball down the field. Now, if Irvin could body him up on a comeback and those types of things, then it was a whole different type of deal. So, I think what people are going to realize is that they just got to — he'll still have balls thrown in his direction, but it will be very calculated and they'll just have to be smarter, the quarterbacks will, and I think that's now going to happen."

And there's another element to this coverage that we really haven't seen Dan Quinn implement just yet. But actually, it was something Aikman feared more than anything regarding Sanders.

"The thing I was always worried about when we would play against Deion before he came to Dallas was if they put Deion on Alvin Harper and then rolled (coverage) to Michael, well, then now we really got some problems because Deion would be capable of taking Alvin out of the game, and then if they're constantly rolling to Michael, now, we're going to be able to hit some underneath things to him, but nothing of any real substance. And that's something we always talked about internally."

Aikman said he's seen the Rams do something similar with All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and said it might be something Quinn is keeping in his back pocket.

"Whether Dan Quinn ultimately does some of those types of things, I don't know, but what a luxury in today's game when you have a corner who can cover people the way that he can and then obviously create the takeaways. They're without some key players and they're only going to get better as they continue to work within the system, but the takeaways are really big."

The Cowboys lead the NFL in interceptions with 10, and rank second in the league with 12 total takeaways.

Diggs has six of those picks, the most by any Cowboys cornerback since Anthony Henry had six in 2007. Sanders' career-high for a season was seven in 1993 and he never had more than five with the Cowboys.

But then again, teams weren't testing him that much by that point in his career. And time will tell if we see the same approach for Diggs.

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