EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Trevon Diggs heard what you said about his tackling last season, as evidenced in his part of the 40-0 evisceration of the New York Giants in Week 1. Despite putting game-changing stops on film via tackling, e.g., the critical stop on third-and-2 against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 17-17 contest with only a minute left to play at AT&T Stadium in Week 2 of the 2022 season (one the Dallas Cowboys went on to win 20-1), the narrative persists.
Has he missed tackles? Yes.
Has he made tackles? Yes.
Has he leveled up his grind in 2023 to make sure those who dismiss the latter consume an entire crow — feathers and all?? You better believe it.
"I'm just trying to expand my game and take one play at a time," said Diggs. "Every year, I'm going to get better. Every year, I'm going to expand my game and do something to get better and that's what it's about: growing every year and executing."
The First-Team All-Pro and record-setting cornerback is hot off of landing a major contract extension from the Cowboys this summer, but any questions on if he'll get complacent were quickly dropped in a deep grave when he stole the show in training camp before taking the Giants to task.
On Sunday evening, in a 40-0 shellacking of the New York Giants to open the season, Diggs' ability to tackle forced two takeaways, first in an obliteration of Saquon Barkley on a would-be reception that evolved into a tip-drill that was caught by DaRon Bland and turned into a pick-six to give the Cowboys an eventual 16-0 lead in the first quarter.
"Tre has been a dog," said veteran safety Jayron Kearse after the blowout victory at MetLife Stadium. "That's just what it is. People nitpick all of the time and he brushes it off and just keeps playing ball. He's been that way."
Diggs' second takeaway created by his tackling ability was a forced fumble against Giants' wideout Isaiah Hodgins — recovered by fellow defensive back Israel Mukuamu with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of a 40-0 contest — which not only goes to his willingness to hit and make the play, but also his unwillingness to take his foot off of the accelerator with the game wildly out of reach for the opposition.
"This is a guy that went and got 11 picks [in 2021] … and takes away a whole side of the field and then has to hear about, 'Oh, he doesn't tackle. He doesn't tackle,'" said Kearse. "After he made those plays, he walked to the sideline and said, 'What now? What now?!'.
"Whatever it is that guys have to say about it, he might not speak on it but he hears it and then he attacks it. They talk about tackling but I don't think that's going to be an issue. He heard all of the talk and he's going to deliver, and then they'll find something else to say about him. They do it all of the time."
Diggs credits his ability to not only hawk the ball but also in his annual growth as a willing and capable tackler to lining up against his brother, fellow First-Team All-Pro Stephon Diggs, every offseason; and it's the definition of the age-old adage that iron sharpens iron.
So if you're wondering how Diggs, who has already proven himself one of the best cornerbacks in franchise history, in only a span of three seasons, continues to level up, that's one part of the answer.
"It helps out a lot," said Diggs. "Going against that competition while we're working out, and having [him] in my face and just seeing it helps out a lot."
The other part is his ability to turn any vitriol and narratives hurled his way into fuel. And with the addition of Stephon Gilmore, a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year who grabbed the first interception of his Cowboys career on Sunday against Daniel Jones and the Giants, it's truly scary hours for opposing quarterbacks this season.
And that makes Diggs' message clear as it relates to what he feels the biggest statement was that the Cowboys made against the Giants in Week 1.
"Don't throw the ball," he said.
To his point, Jones finished the contest with a passer rating of 32.4, thanks to two interceptions and no touchdowns with a completion rate of 54% (15 completions in 28 attempts), also fumbling the ball twice.
Considering the talent in the Cowboys' secondary (and pass rush), the fact they shut out the Giants with both Donovan Wilson and Jourdan Lewis inactive, and the fact a reception doesn't mean the play will end well for the receiver, if Diggs' proclamation sounds more like a dare than an actual edict, it's because it likely is.
It's probably both, though.
Yeah, it's definitely both.