A soccer family’s FaceTime: How Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs rose from Stefon Diggs’ youthful brother to NFL interception chief

FRISCO, Texas — Your entire community message renowned over FaceTime.  

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs and Buffalo Bills receiver Stefon Diggs logged on the night the NFL announced every had earned a 2021 Pro Bowl berth. Their brother Darez joined the video name, too, as did roughly a dozen more family and longtime chums. Five-12 months-worn Aaiden Diggs, Trevon’s son, renowned excitedly nearby. And Stephanie Diggs, the mum now of two Pro Bowl selections, asked Siri: Have brothers ever been chosen to the Pro Bowl the same 12 months? Then she asked herself: “How frigid is that?” 

“Maybe one in every of my current moments of this 12 months, for real,” Trevon Diggs acknowledged of the Dec. 22 FaceTime name. “Attributable to that’s my brother and I treasure him to loss of life. Simply being in a declare to pass up there with him, that’s fireside.” 

This became furthermore their lifeless father’s dream, a vision he articulated on a Halloween imprinted vividly in Stephanie’s memory. Younger Stefon dressed in a Energy Rangers costume that night. The brothers searched door to door for the largest candy bar. Stephanie and Aron, whom congestive heart failure claimed in 2008, waited within the auto. Aron told her: “One among my sons goes to impact the league.” 

“Yeah, real,” Stephanie told USA TODAY Sports she retorted. “That’s what all fathers pronounce. All americans thinks their son goes to impact it to the league.” 

She redefined the draw as her boys reached heart college and excessive college. An Amtrak attendant, Stephanie became generally on the avenue several days in a row and hoped mainly that her sons would possibly presumably presumably per chance contain scholarships and procure a college training.  

Nonetheless now, Aron’s dream has change into reality for now not one son nevertheless two. Stefon, after an NFL-greatest 1,535 receiving yards closing season, has caught 94 balls for 1,144 yards and nine touchdowns in his 2021 advertising and marketing campaign. Trevon leads the league with 11 interceptions, two of which he has returned for touchdowns. His 21 pass deflections unfriendly 2d handiest to Current England’s J.C. Jackson. The resume became adequate for the Diggs brothers to be half of elite firm as one in every of three Pro Bowl sibling duos this 12 months, alongside pass rushers Joey and Prick Bosa (Chargers, 49ers), besides Eagles heart Jason Kelce and Chiefs tight conclude Travis Kelce.

That ball-hawking has helped the Cowboys defense rebound from 28th in factors allowed (29.6 per game) closing season to seventh (20.8).

Diggs celebrates most how his playmaking improves crew efficiency, his jubilation evident on Dec. 26 when the Cowboys claimed the NFC East title and renowned after a 56-14 trouncing of Washington.

He intercepted Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke on Dallas’ first defensive snap that night, establishing his offense for his or her first touchdown of the game. Within the postgame locker room, streaming on Instagram Are living, Diggs relished a “COWBOYS RUN THE EAST” T-shirt and hat emblazoned with an “NFC EAST CHAMPIONS” patch. 

“Came a lengthy manner,” he told viewers staring on the stream. “Came a lengthy manner. We were some [expletive] closing 12 months!” 

He laughed and shut off the stream. 

Risk, reward of uncommon traits  

Trevon organized his 2021 offseason intentionally. He lined up reverse Stefon, pleading for “but all but again” if he lost in drills that Trevon credits with “accelerating” his transition to the NFL. Trevon studied film, too, alongside side of his rookie-12 months pass deflections. He lamented that he broke up 14 passes nevertheless secured handiest three interceptions (21.4%). The expansion that followed has allowed him to snag 11 of 21 deflections this season, a drastic delay to 52.3%.

Diggs credits Cowboys coaches with guiding contrivance pattern aloof uncooked after Alabama coach Prick Saban shifted him from receiver to rotund-time corner in 2017. He says Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn offers him freedom to play with aggression, and cornerbacks coach Al Harris hones contrivance that ensures his actions are curious. Quinn laughs on the advice that Diggs’ capability to intercept more passes than any NFL player in 39 years stems from teaching.

“That will effectively be different (expletive),” Quinn acknowledged. “Within the NFL, whenever you occur to (impact basically the most of) uncommon traits, there’s an opportunity that you just obtained some tall manufacturing. And he’s delivered on those. 

“Right here’s a uncommon competitor who works really hard at his game.” 

Quinn marvels at those traits, alongside side the 2d-12 months defender’s capability to trace the “flash” of a ball and transition mid-play from defender to de facto receiver. 

When Dak Prescott noticed WFT take a look at Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs deep on first ball, Dak conception: “Why? Why would you are trying him on the predominant play?”

“It seemed treasure he became the receiver,” Dak acknowledged of Trevon’s 11th INT. “Truthfully, it items the tone…the mentality.”pic.twitter.com/rPrgOi7Hqm

— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) December 27, 2021

“So damn spectacular,” Quinn acknowledged. 

Diggs’ craft is complex. Cowboys coaches laud his hand-be taught coordination, ball abilities, dawdle and quickness. His film survey is influenced closely by his roots as a receiver. After coaches inform game assignments, Diggs asks himself: What routes are in all likelihood to arise in every formation? What tendencies does his assigned receiver conceal on the highest of a inaugurate or on the level of remove? He narrates one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs in Cowboys practices, calling out routes earlier than the snap with accuracy receiver Amari Cooper measures as real nine instances out of 10. Diggs figures: The more data he commits to memory earlier than kickoff, the more fluidly he’ll act in real time.  

“Some gamers private big anticipation and consciousness and judgment on that, and some gamers lovely aren’t somewhat the same level,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged. “When (cornerbacks) know the ball has obtained to attain out in a selected quantity of time based completely totally on the pass speed or they will gaze hoping on what the protection is that the offense is keeping more guys in to provide protection to, and that adjustments the depth routes and kind of patterns and so forth? Guys which would be really lovely obtainable, they gaze all that (and) direction of in milliseconds.

“(Diggs) is clearly having fun with very effectively and doing those issues very effectively. And different that’s self belief.”

Certain, Diggs has preyed on NFC East backup quarterbacks in Heinicke and the Giants’ Mike Glennon. Nonetheless he has furthermore swiped balls this season from Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, Justin Herbert in Los Angeles and Mac Jones in Current England. Against the Patriots, Diggs acknowledged he diagnosed from film survey a double slant to the front aspect that guided an interception returned 42 yards for a trek-ahead touchdown with 2: 27 to play in regulation of what would finally conceal a 35-29 Cowboys extra time private. 

Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs on his remove-6 vs. Patriots: “They were running all of it game. I considered it on film, the double slant to the front aspect. I lovely read it and made a play on the ball. He tipped it and it lovely fell in my fingers.

“There became no stopping me.”pic.twitter.com/gd5H0mc0hJ

— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) October 18, 2021

The possibility of that aggressive mindset flared the instantaneous next play when Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne beat Diggs on a double pass and escaped for a 75-yard touchdown. Diggs continues to amass when to bite on a route. Cardinals receiver A.J. Green shook him on a double pass closing Sunday that resulted in a 42-yard pass to the three-yard line on Arizona’s first force. Cowboys Pro Bowl rookie linebacker Micah Parsons defends Diggs as a “gambler” who the crew is conscious of will “repair his mistakes” while embracing the edgy type that brings such quantity of tall plays. 

“Every corner has gotten beat,” Belichick acknowledged. “Every corner has had a pass caught on them. Nonetheless your entire lovely ones I’ve been around private that self belief that they neglect concerning the play, be taught from it and (pass) onto the following play. 

“Whatever it is, are attempting to make stronger on that. Nonetheless proceed to play with a excessive level of aggressiveness and consciousness.” 

What’s next 

As the Cowboys lunge to Philadelphia for his or her traditional-season finale Saturday night, Diggs’ 11 picks tie Cowboys Hall of Fame cornerback Everson Walls’ franchise file, role in 1981. No NFL player has hit the ticket since . If Diggs plays – he became ruled questionable Thursday with illness nevertheless now not placed in COVID-19 protocol – he can tear sole possession of the ticket. He can furthermore draw to enhance a lunge of intercepting no decrease than one pass in every profession game in opposition to the Eagles. 

Diggs claims four picks in three matchups so some distance, leaping Eagles rookie receiver DeVonta Smith out route within the groups’ matchup earlier this fall and returning the remove of another frail Alabama teammate in Jalen Hurts 59 yards for a touchdown. 

That became his third interception of the 12 months en path to a non-public draw of 10. He accomplished that Dec. 19 on the Giants with three video games to play. So he reset his expectations. 

“If I would possibly presumably presumably per chance procure another 10, that can presumably presumably be big in these closing three video games,” he quipped Dec. 23. “I’m lovely going to position my greatest foot forward and gaze what I attain up with.” 

To Diggs, a future alongside with his greatest foot forward spells exponential notify towards declare mastery. He has now played 5 seasons since Saban directed the alternate and left then-teenaged Trevon calling Stefon in tears. Nonetheless “I’m aloof 100% now not really chuffed with it,” Trevon acknowledged. “I’m aloof discovering out, really (and) really don’t know how lengthy it’s going to remove.” That prospect ought to aloof haunt quarterbacks all the contrivance in which thru the league. 

 Trevon embraces the grind towards persisted development, sparkling Stefon and Stephanie will seemingly be beside him. The memory of Aron, who became a Cowboys fan, delivers further motivation. Trevon’s private son, Aaiden, turned 5 in November. His soccer acumen, force and mind seem to transcend his years. 

Aaiden, who turned a fan current at some level of training camp on HBO’s docuseries “Unprecedented Knocks,” told USA TODAY Sports he has now not but intercepted a pass in his profession nevertheless he did get better a fumble and return it for a touchdown. “He dropped it and I obtained it off the bottom and made the touchdown,” Aaiden defined, furthermore noting “I had two blocks on my buddy Steven.” 

He cites his father’s interception ancient previous with encyclopedic tell, remembering which came while dad wore jersey quantity “27” (Trevon’s rookie quantity) vs. “7,” and which dad capped off for a touchdown as Aaiden had requested. 

Aaiden cheered for his father on Dec. 26 as he intercepted Heinicke’s first pass, and the pre-kindergarten student stayed up previous bedtime to further analyze the game in real-time from an AT&T Stadium suite. Aaiden knew whether or now not a elevate came from Cowboys running aid Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard, and he mimicked a third-quarter pass breakup from Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown from the steps of his suite. When the Cowboys particular groups returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, Aaiden renowned with a robotic dance precise adequate to point out he inherited his father’s hand-be taught coordination.  

At instances, Stephanie reminds her grandson to opine more privately, treasure when he tells uncle Stefon that he believes CeeDee Lamb is a superior route runner or when Aaiden expressed disapproval towards Elliott—as the running aid stopped by Aaiden’s fifth birthday occasion—because he “didn’t bustle very hard” closing game. Nonetheless mostly, the Diggs family lovely embraces but another generation of a decades-deep soccer family as Aaiden begins to remove how his father has change into a household establish. 

“My establish is Aaiden Diggs, my dad is Trevon Diggs,” the 5-12 months-worn says with the pleasure of a kid who looks to really designate seemingly the most magnitude of his father’s particular season. 

“Nonetheless I will’t name him Trevon Diggs,” Aaiden continues. “Attributable to I will handiest name him ‘my dad.’” 

Comply with USA Today time Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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