Hello everyone! Well, I'm back after an interesting day of Twitter malfunctions and what better way to come back than with some commentary on Patrick Robinson?
In case you have been under a rock, I have been hammering the idea of Patrick Robinson to Dallas for some time now. A former first round pick, Robinson did not work out for New Orleans. It was after a change of scenery to San Diego that Robinson really showed his potential.
Dallas hosted Robinson yesterday and word is circulating that Dallas is deep into negotiations with the cornerback and his agent.
While I was already a fan and had done some preliminary work on him, Sunday night I really dug in and watched four of his games with San Diego. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.
Patrick Robinson is a cover corner through and through. While he lacks the ideal size for the Cowboys, he plays bigger than his measurables. I rarely saw his height or arm length becoming a problem for him. He excels in sticky coverage and uses his positioning and body control to cover receivers. He is a lot like Orlando Scandrick in that respect.
One thing I noticed with Robinson was versatility, something the Cowboys really covet. There were games where Robinson was used mostly in the slot and others where he played the outside cornerback position. He plays on both sides of the formation as well. What is even more important is that San Diego played both man and zone coverage and I didn't see him struggle with either.
Here you can see Robinson guard Golden Tate out of the slot and get good enough depth to be able to intercept the pass from Matthew Stafford.
I tended to see Robinson make more plays in man coverage, but that is to be expected when watching film. Man coverage just tends to stick out more than zone coverage does.
Where you can really tell that he can handle zone coverage is the way he reads quarterbacks. Robinson trusts his instincts and has fantastic ability to close on routes quickly. He comes out of his break with real explosion and when he shifts his hips it comes smoothly with little loss of speed.
In the following clip you'll see a little bit of both things that I'm talking about. Robinson is in man coverage, but his ability to read and react allows him to come off of his man and make a phenomenal pass break up.
Now, you're probably wondering where the bad Patrick Robinson comes in, because he's obviously not perfect… especially if he's lasted this long in free agency.
Robinson had a nice rookie season with the Saints, but he really struggled after that. When trusted with the number one corner role Robinson was not up to the task.
Where he really struggled was relying too heavily on his athleticism. Rather than being physical at the line of scrimmage or fighting through routes, Robinson often tried to simply beat receivers to the spot using his speed and athleticism. This doesn't work against the new age number one wide receiver. When Robinson would try to turn his hips and run, elite wide receivers would use their strength to use the momentum against him and cut, leaving him in the dust.
After said cu, comes another weakness for Robinson, tackling. He can handle his own as a tackler, but he doesn't do so confidently and can struggle against big receivers and running backs.
All of these issues are things Robinson cleaned up last season in San Diego for the record, but if you want to see Robinson struggle then I know a guy who really exposed him and you might as well.
That guy is one Dez Bryant, who gave Robinson one of, if not the biggest, headache to the tune of 9 catches for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Cowboys week 16 loss to the Saints in 2012.
Luckily someone was nice enough to video every one of those catches from that game. P.S., That person was me!
Obviously Patrick Robinson struggled with Dez Bryant. From the beginning of the game Dez was in his head. You can tell that Robinson was trying to prevent the mistakes he made and Dez just kept exploiting it in different ways.
This is just an example of what went wrong in New Orleans. The biggest criticisms were that Robinson relied on his athleticism too much. Whenever a situation called for technique, Robinson did not answer. He would try to beat players to the spot with athleticism rather than playing physical and staying with receivers through their routes.
Now, these are things that Robinson really fixed in his year with San Diego. He played a lot more technically sound football and not having to be “the guy” may have had everything to do with that. Clearly Dez got into Robinson's head in that game and that was a common theme when he had to guard players like Demaryius Thomas and Jordy Nelson as well.
Look at the difference between how Robinson was getting bullied on slants by Dez Bryant in 2012 with the Saints versus in 2015 with the Chargers.
Then you can completely see that Robinson fights through routes as opposed to what he did in New Orleans. Watch him fight a screen and then battle through the entire route brilliantly.
Patrick Robinson still isn't a great tackler, but he improved on that in San Diego as he became a guy you can count on to make easy tackles. Watch him prevent a touchdown and lay out the running back on this play.
So, I think it is important to realize that while Patrick Robinson is far from a perfect player, he was a much different guy in San Diego than he was in New Orleans. If you are getting last season's version of him then you will be happy, but there is always the chance he regresses back to his New Orleans days.
When Robinson uses more technique as opposed to relying on athleticism, he plays a high level of cornerback. I truly think if he were to sign with the Cowboys he would immediately challenge to be the best cover corner on the roster. If Orlando Scandrick returns well from his injury then I'd give him the nod, but he is an upgrade over Brandon Carr for sure and Morris Claiborne is far too inconsistent and injury prone to get that honor.
This is a player that can help the Cowboys secondary tremendously.
I don't think this signing would mean Brandon Carr would have to be cut. I think the best course of action would be to hold on to Carr until after the NFL Draft. If they get a corner or two that they like then they can cut Brandon Carr with the June 1st designation. If not, it helps to have depth at cornerback. Every season it seems someone misses serious time and it would be really nice to be four deep with serious talent.
In dime coverage having Carr and Claiborne outside with Scandrick and Robinson inside would be a really nice combination, especially with Byron Jones over the top.
Yes, the Cowboys missed out on defensive line in a big way, but with Patrick Robinson added to the secondary this could lead to some coverage sacks.
All in all Robinson would be a great addition.