Cowboys and their dominant defense continue to love Trevon Diggs, even as the advanced stats don't

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs reached for the ball, his arm disrupting its trajectory just slightly.

That was enough to cause a pass that brushed Washington Commanders No. 1 receiver Terry McLaurin’s hands to fall flat, a fourth-and-2 attempt resulting in a turnover on downs as the Commanders trailed by 15 points with 2:45 to play.

Diggs had broken up his third pass of the day. The Cowboys, in tandem, would soon secure their third victory of the season.

“Super huge,” Cowboys star linebacker Micah Parsons told Yahoo Sports from his locker after the 25-10 win. “He’s trying to show people, ‘All right, I can gamble. But also I’ve got to be a lockdown and disciplined corner.’

“When you kind of got a guy who’s best of both worlds, you do get a Diggs.”

Plenty of fans agree. And then: There are those who do not.

The Cowboys’ third-year cornerback became a lightning rod for pundits last season as he led the league with 11 interceptions but also missed tackles and allowed big plays at times.

Sunday’s stat line, to some degree, reflected that polarization.

Diggs undoubtedly made game-changing plays, beginning with a late second-quarter interception. Diggs shadowed rookie receiver Jahan Dotson, who had scored Washington’s lone touchdown, 46 yards downfield. But as the pass began to sink downward, Diggs turned his head, extended his arms and cradled it powerfully to eliminate Washington’s final opportunity to take a lead into the half.

Diggs would also later break up two fourth-quarter passes intended for McLaurin, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark each of the past two seasons.

And yet, a review of his box score from Sunday seems almost erroneous: zero solo tackles, zero assisted tackles, zero combined.

The same player whom PFF touted as allowing a 0.0 passer rating Sunday also ranked 72nd among cornerbacks’ defensive grades through three weeks. Diggs managed just slightly better in coverage, slotting 64th.

“Everyone is obligated to their own opinion and how they feel about me,” Diggs said Sunday afternoon from his locker. “I know how I feel. My teammates know I feel. My coaches know who I am.

“So I’ll just keep putting it on tape.”

Two recent longtime defensive backs, Richard Sherman and 2009 second-round pick Darius Butler, joined the conversation on Sunday.

“Whole lotta experts on CB play have been pretty quiet when it comes to 7’s play so far this season,” Butler tweeted.

Added Sherman: “Called GAME last week and booking go balls this week. Look like hes (sic) answering every question this year. Checking off boxes.

“Looks ELITE.”

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Sherman, as well as anyone, can judge.

Sherman not only compiled five Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro honors in his 11-year career, but also helped anchor Seattle’s Super Bowl-winning “Legion of Boom” defense. The unit was coordinated by none other than current Cowboys coordinator Dan Quinn.

Diggs often watches Sherman’s tape to understand how to maximize his role in Quinn’s system, he told Yahoo Sports. The two communicate also through text message and Instagram as Diggs seeks advantages to refine his craft.

The numbers don't love Trevon Diggs (7), but the Cowboys are loving his play during their 3-1 start. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The numbers don't love Trevon Diggs (7), but the Cowboys are loving his play during their 3-1 start. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“I talked to Richard before, just getting tips and everything,” Diggs said. “It’s a great honor just to hear from him and how he’s seeing it.

“I see it, I watch tape, I see how [the Legion of Boom] system was. We got all the pieces to be just like that defense. If we keep going, the pace that we’re at, we can get there.”

In big moments, particularly with the game on the line, Diggs has elevated the unit. In a Week 2 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Diggs made each of the final two tackles, including blowing up a third-and-3 attempt two yards short.

Last week, he intercepted New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones’ final pass attempt in a 23-16 Dallas win.

The Cowboys haven’t allowed more than one touchdown, nor more than 19 points, in any of their first four games. The stinginess represents the franchise’s best marks in the past half-century.

“They’re the reason we’re winning, it’s just plain and simple,” said quarterback Cooper Rush, who Sunday became the first quarterback in franchise history to win his first four starts. “One of their messages is, ‘We have everyone’s back.’ They walk the walk.”

Diggs is far from the only hallmark of that effort, the Cowboys’ 15 sacks are second in the league only to the Philadelphia Eagles. Pass rushers like Parsons and veteran DeMarcus Lawrence have frustrated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady, Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, New York Giants’ Daniel Jones and now Washington’s Carson Wentz.

“We know we real up front,” Lawrence said after the game. “If you was a quarterback, you’d be flustered, too.”

The Cowboys believe they’re real down low, also. Both starting cornerbacks had interceptions, while safety Donovan Wilson recorded a game-high nine tackles, including a quarterback hit on a blitz.

And yet, team owner Jerry Jones expects league attention to continue shining on Diggs' 13 interceptions since the start of the 2021 season — and his unique coverage abilities in any given matchup.

“You’ve got two receivers running out there,” Jones said. “I don’t want to be trite, but he does become the receiver out there.

“Everybody’s going to get to see that all over the league.”

Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein