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Could 2020 be the Year Chidobe Awuzie Breaks Out?

The Dallas Cowboys added a lot of new faces to the cornerback room this offseason. They added Daryl Worley and Maurice Canady in free agency, then drafted Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II in the 2020 NFL Draft. With Byron Jones now swimming in a pool full of cash in Miami, the Dallas Cowboys need someone to step up and be their top corner.

Though many might scoff at the idea, Chidobe Awuzie has the athleticism, talent, and experience to slide into that role as the Cowboys number one cornerback.

Heading into a contract year, Chidobe Awuzie has a lot to prove to a lot of people, but I think the prevailing narrative on him might be a bit misleading.

Yes, Chidobe Awuzie has given up a lot of catches over the last two seasons. Yes, at times he was picked on as teams avoided throwing Byron Jones’ direction. While those two things are real, it doesn’t tell the full story about Chidobe Awuzie’s 2019 season.

He wasn’t as bad as we think.

In 2019, only 11 players were targeted more than Awuzie’s 97 targets. Of those 11 players, only three of them had a better completion percentage allowed than Chido’s 59.8% completion percentage allowed. And only three of them allowed fewer touchdowns than Awuzie’s three.

Of the 21 players that allowed at least 90 targets, Awuzie was 12th in passer rating allowed. Maybe not great, but not as bad as we think. Only five players had fewer touchdowns than Awuzie’s three allowed.

And then there’s this stat provided by Pro Football Focus.

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Though at times it seemed like Awuzie was having a hard time tracking the football, he still was able to affect pass attempts. Forced incompletion percentage has to do with incompletions that he had a hand in causing.

Chidobe Awuzie often got beat by perfect ball placement and incredible catches by the opposing quarterback-wide receiver tandem. He was more unlucky at times than he was bad. Some of that was a technique that didn’t allow Awuzie to do what he does best, and that’s playing with his eyes on the ball.

Former Defensive Back Coach Kris Richard encouraged players to play a trail technique that had corners playing the man and not the ball. The downside is that it takes away a player’s ability to see the ball coming and limits their ability to make a play on the football.

Chidobe Awuzie has been at his best when he’s been able to keep the football in front of him and see the quarterback. When he has his back to the football, he struggles.

There has been some talk about using Awuzie in multiple roles this season like they did his rookie year and like he did at Colorado. Whether he plays safety, in the slot, or on the boundary, it would be wise for the Dallas Cowboys to play Awuzie where he can keep his eyes on the quarterback and the football as much as possible.

Heading into 2020, Awuzie may see a much improved season if only because he won’t be targeted as frequently as he was with Byron Jones on the other side of the field. Yes, teams will still throw his way, but the guy on the other side won’t be as highly respected as Byron Jones was, which will decrease Awuzie’s target rate.

Chidobe Awuzie has all the tools to be a really good corner in the NFL, and in 2020 with a scheme and approach that allows him to play the football more, Awuzie may experience the breakout we’ve all been waiting to see. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, it’s now or never for Awuzie. I believe the Dallas Cowboys will be pleased with the results.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. I’m not too sure about those pro football focus numbers because it seemed like every time we needed a big stop or the opponent needed a play they threw at 24 and bad things happened for the cowboys. Now without Jones he will be on the other teams number 1 WR. That scares the hell out of me. I hope the more aggressive blitzing defense will cover some of his mistakes up and hopefully Diggs comes along pretty quick. The future at the corner spots should hopefully be Diggs and Lewis on the outside and brown in the slot. Stop hating on Jordan Lewis and let the kid loose

  2. WOW im always amazed at the thorough and thought provoking article’s all u bloggers offer John W Whether we disagree or not U do the heavy lifting provide alot of spot on info and offer many different perspectives for ur readers to chew on.

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