The Vikings Can Expose Trevon Diggs on Sunday

Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty (USA TODAY Sports)

Every NFL season brings about surprise performances from certain players, but none have been nearly as impressive as what Trevon Diggs has done for the Dallas Cowboys. Diggs has seven interceptions in six games, including two defensive touchdowns and a pick in every single game thus far.

Oh, and by the way, Diggs is the younger brother of Stefon Diggs. His otherworldly performance has earned him the second-best NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds and helped give Dallas some padding in the NFC East standings.

At this point, the real question is whether Diggs is truly the next coming of Deion Sanders or if he’s just caught some lightning in a bottle.

Diggs is talented, but if you look a little deeper into the stats, it becomes evident that he’s a gambler on a hot streak. For all his accolades thus far, Pro Football Focus gives him a 61.9 overall grade for the year because he has allowed 329 passing yards through the air. That’s quite the contrast from any sort of defensive award talk. He likes to play physically, but the fact that he’s so eager to jump routes to make the big play can also be his greatest downfall.

The good news for Vikings fans? The perfect antidote for Diggs may be in Minnesota.

Justin Jefferson has already become one of the most talented route runners in the league and could very well be the worst-nightmare matchup for Diggs. Jefferson excels using double moves, and getting Diggs to bite on the first route has been his Achilles heel.

If you can’t shake Diggs, though, you’re already screwed. One of the reasons he’s so good is that he’s a former wide receiver who turned into a cornerback at Alabama. This gives him above-average footwork and, more importantly, some of the best hands at the position.

It’s an exciting matchup on paper, but we’ve also seen it play out a bit in-game. Jefferson and Diggs played each other in 2019 when they were at LSU and Alabama, respectively. The game didn’t produce a ton of tape on the matchup as Diggs primarily stayed on Ja’Marr Chase. But he was in coverage when Jefferson was targeted once, which resulted in an interception.

That’s the name of the game for Diggs. For all his flaws, he’s able to make the game-changing play. Minnesota must recognize that.

Klint Kubiak has been heralded throughout the season for his ability to customize his offensive attack on a game-by-game basis. However, that’ll be put to the test on Sunday night. It’s not fair to say that the Cowboys have won and lost because of Diggs, but his big plays have broken games open.

For Minnesota, it’s about neutralizing him as an X-factor and building upon what his opponents have been able to do over the last couple of weeks. Diggs’ last two games have been his worst two games of the season. He’s allowed 77 receiving yards on six completions to the New York Giants and 84 receiving yards on three completions to New England Patriots.

Both teams have bottom-tier receiving corps. So how in the world were they able to burn Diggs so badly?

The answer may be as simple as I’ve previously laid out.

On this route, Kadarius Toney notices Diggs trying to catch him inside when he cuts in at the 35-yard line, so he quickly pivots outside, making it an easy catch for a big gain. This is the exact sort of play that I can almost guarantee Kubiak looked at when he watched film this week. Script a couple of slants and posts early for Jefferson, and this sort of double move becomes wide open.

Kirk Cousins has been excellent protecting the football this year, sporting a 13-2 TD-to-INT ratio. Those numbers won’t be too intimidating for Diggs, though, as he’s already been able to fool MVP candidates Tom Brady and Justin Herbert into mistakes so far this season.

The LSU vs. ‘Bama showdown is only one of the many on-field battles, but it could very well be the one that wins the war. As potent as the Cowboys’ offense is, the reason they’ve been able to get off to a 5-1 start this year is because of the elevated play on defense.

Fortunately for the Vikings, they have a QB who has passed for over 2,400 yards and has a 17-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio in nine starts against Dallas, plus a wideout who is more than equipped to out-duel his college rival.

The bad news? If the Vikings fail, they may see more Diggs magic in U.S. Bank Stadium — this time for the wrong team.

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