DALLAS — Mike McCarthy noted throughout the 2021 campaign that if there were 50-50 balls thrown in the direction of cornerback Trevon Diggs, chances were more favorable for the Dallas Cowboys cornerback than the opposing receiver.
As the Cowboys worked through the final week of organized team activities at The Star in Frisco, the Dallas coach continued to marvel at the advantage that Diggs has when passes are thrown his way, and the talent reminds him of a former Cowboys cornerback.
"Obviously Deion [Sanders] when the ball went up in the air, you just assumed Deion was coming down with it," McCarthy told reporters on June 9. "Diggs has some of that, too. You’re not throwing 50-50 balls when you’re throwing his way."
Diggs hauled in a league-high 11 interceptions with two of them returned for touchdowns in 2021. Sanders, a two-time Super Bowl champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer, never recorded double-digit picks in his 14 seasons. However, "Prime Time" had a reputation across the NFL for discouraging quarterbacks from throwing his way.
McCarthy remembers the 1995 Thanksgiving tilt between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cowboys at Texas Stadium. McCarthy was on the late Marty Schottenheimer's staff as a quarterbacks coach, and the offensive game plan involved throwing near Sanders, who was nursing a hamstring issue during that short week.
"They kept cool and Darren Woodson came up on the tight end," McCarthy said. "We were getting the post route and kept throwing it there. [Sanders] kept going back there and catching it or getting his hands on it, and I can remember the bus ride home. Herman Edwards was the secondary coach. He was like, ‘What the hell were you guys thinking about going after Deion?’ I said, ‘It was corners. The post was open.’ It was Deion Sanders."
McCarthy hopes Diggs earns the same respect and starts seeing fewer targets, even if they are advantageous 50-50 passes.
Said McCarthy: "I think that’s where any aspiring young corner would like to get to someday, that type of respect. Hopefully someday we’re talking about him like that.”
Diggs earned his first career Pro Bowl selection and first-team All-Pro during his second season as a pro.
"You don’t get that way by playing cautious, too," said McCarthy. "So, it’s a balance. He’s young. Big play production, you gotta have it to score points and stop points in this league. So, that’s part of it. I’m clearly in tune with some of the plays that were made against him, but, hey, the guy gets his hands on the ball and he’s a dangerous weapon and the ultimate compliment is when they stop throwing over there."
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