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Mailbag: Fair To Criticize Diggs' Coverage Skills? 


Trevon Diggs led the league in interceptions but also gave up a lot of yards usually covering the No. 1 receiver. What do you think is best: a lockdown corner who doesn't give up many yards or a corner who will give up yards but gets many turnovers? — MATTHEW MCGINNIS / ST. PAUL, MN

Nick: I really can't believe this is a conversation. Trevon Diggs ties a 40-year-old record with 11 interceptions and there are people who question his work? I thought he had a great season and I really question the critics who try to pick apart his game. You can't have it both ways. He goes after the ball and guess what? He got it 11 times! And with that, you're going to give up a few plays, but I really don't think there were any significant breakdowns in his coverage – other than the Patriots play. But even that came right after he made one of the best plays of the season with the pick-six. And here's another thing about your debate – there is no question at all that he got 11 picks. We all saw them. There is a big question on the flip side. Other than the coaches who call the coverages, how does anyone truly know how many yards a cornerback allowed? Ok, so he's playing off the ball in the fourth quarter and gives up an underneath route for 16 yards? Is that a bad play or a good play because it wasn't 45? I don't buy the grading systems by outsiders when it comes to defensive backs.

David: The Cowboys already told us how they feel about this question when they let Byron Jones walk and drafted Trevon Diggs. That's exactly the scenario you're describing. Takeaways are valuable in an age when offense is everything, so give me the takeaways. Having said that, maybe let's also chill about Trevon's coverage. He's a risk taker and he gave up some big plays last year, but I honestly think that stuff is vastly overblown. He's still a young player, and it's wild to me how critical people have been of a guy who was All-Pro in his second season. If that's what he's capable of at the age of 23, I'm not remotely worried about him.

We haven't heard anything about Rico Dowdle for quite some time. He looked very good last preseason before he got hurt. Is he expected to be back in the running back mix this upcoming season? — FRED LONDON / MORRISTOWN, TN

Nick: I figure he's in the mix enough to be changing numbers. I think I saw No. 23 for him. So I'm sure he'll be back in the mix, battling for snaps. Look for Dowdle to compete with JaQuan Hardy and Sewo Olonilua for offseason carries behind Zeke and Pollard. But I do think this is a good year to draft a back in the middle rounds. Who knows what the future holds for the two starters in 2023? So if you throw a draft pick into the mix, it might severely hurt the roster chances for Dowdle and the others.

David: He's still here. I'm expecting he'll be part of the mix this spring and heading into training camp. Though I do wonder how a significant hip injury will affect his agility and mobility moving forward. He showed some real promise, so here's hoping he can pick up where he left off. He and Sewo Olonilua are both guys I think can push for a roster spot if they're healthy.

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