FRISCO, Texas – We've put some distance between ourselves and the end of the Cowboys' season, so it's easier to look back with some perspective.
Of course, it was a year that ended in disappointing fashion. But ending the ending, there's plenty that can be learned from a journey that started all the way back in May.
This week, the staff of DallasCowboys.com is looking back at their picks for the biggest moments and contributions from the 2021 season – for better and for worse.
Today, we'll focused on the most improved player on the team. The Cowboys had a few players with improved performances from last year, from Terence Steele, Dalton Schultz, Tony Pollard and even Trevon Diggs, who was named Most Improved Player of the NFL last week, voted on by the Pro Football Writers Association.
So here's the picks from our staff:
Nick Eatman: I'll stick to the guys from this roster last year because I can't say I had ever watched Jayron Kearse play, but he was definitely surprising. But as for improved guys from this team – it's Terence Steele for me. I know Trevon Diggs is another worthy candidate, but we saw the playmaking ability from him last year and figured he would take the next step. But Steele - this guy struggled last year as a rookie and the Cowboys added a veteran to be the swing tackle. Now, I'm not sure Steele isn't one of your top two tackles. He might be a starter for a while.
Rob Phillips: Trevon Diggs. I distinctly remember asking Diggs in Oxnard where he wanted to improve most in his second season. "I got my hands on 14 balls (in 2020). I ended up with not 14 interceptions (three). So that's a problem," he said. Well, Diggs finished up 2021 with a league-high 11 interceptions, tying Everson Walls' single-season Cowboys record. He added 21 pass breakups. And according to Pro Football Focus, he allowed the 10th lowest passer-rating (71.7) in the league despite seeing the third-most targets by opposing quarterbacks (99). No surprise he made the Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro.
David Helman: We always look for players who are about to make The Leap, but I'm not sure how many times you'll ever see a guy break out the way Trevon Diggs did in 2021. He looked promising, if sometimes shaky as a rookie. I definitely thought he had the potential to be a solid starter in his second season. But "solid" doesn't really do justice to tying the franchise record for interceptions, leading the league in the same category and becoming an All-Pro. People can nitpick his aggressiveness all they want. The bottom line is Trevon Diggs is a bonafide playmaker in the second, which is something this team hasn't had in a long time.