If the last couple seasons have taught us anything it’s that Chidobe Awuzie is better playing facing the quarterback and better options exist on the boundary
From the time Chidobe Awuzie was drafted back in 2017, his film has told a story. The man affectionately known as “Chido” was a skilled defensive back without an obvious position. In college he was used inside against the slot, back as a safety, and on the boundary as a cornerback. He wasn’t a perfect fit anywhere but as one of the most gifted DBs, he deserved a place somewhere.
The Dallas Cowboys pegged him as a CB almost from the start. Plugging him in on the outside, they did with Chido what they so often stray from doing with their young and versatile players– committed to him at one position. But the cornerback deficiencies he showed in college reared their ugly head in the pros and now it may be time to end the CB experiment and try something new with the uber-athlete from Colorado.
The argument is almost three-fold:
- Chidobe Awuzie struggles with his back to the QB. His ball skills are primarily when he’s facing the QB with the WR in front of him – not when he’s asked to loom back for the ball.
- The Dallas Cowboys have other viable options with Byron Jones, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis all proven commodities.
- In the quest to get the top 5 DBs on the field at the same time, swapping Jeff Heath for Chido may be the best way to get a net gain in the secondary.
Chido the boundary CB
I’ve been harping on this for a while now. Chido has ball skills but they aren’t relevant in the role the Dallas Cowboys often ask him to play. If sitting back in zone, Chido has the instincts to make plays on the ball. That’s why playing more of a safety role makes sense. When the Cowboys aren’t in single high, having a smart physical player on the backend to pair with Xavier Woods makes sense. Repeatedly asking Chido to man up on the boundary and play to his weakness does not.
Another thing I pointed out since the day he was drafted is Chido’s ability to make plays from inside. Whether it’s playing nickel CB or safety inside the box, Chido had a history of success blitzing into the backfield and making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Keep in mind, Rod Marinelli loves using his DBs as blitzers. Playing outside takes away that all important opportunity and wastes his best play-making skill – blitzing.
Get the best players on the field
Ask any Dallas Cowboys fan or analyst who’s the weakest link on this defense and they will probably tell you it’s the second safety (his name rhymes with “Bleff Cleaff”). In an effort to get the best 5 DBs on the field at the same time, swapping Heath for Chido could be just what this defense needs. Sure, they’ll forfeit a certain level of physicality, but Heath can still play on typical running downs. Chido can start with the typical passing downs and grow from there.
Look at most of Chido’s best plays on the ball throughout his college and pro career and you’ll see him playing facing the QB rather than chasing in man coverage and looking back for the ball. Looking back has just never been part of his game.
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Chidobe Awuzie is currently ranked 45th amongst his peers at CB. But his strength has been his tackling – not his coverage. According to Player Profiler, Chido is 67th in yards per target allowed (9.3) and is allowing a passer rating of 111.7 when targeted (indicting it’s even worse than PFR is tracking). Either way, it’s not like I’m asking the Dallas Cowboys to move a Pro Bowler or anything.
This is about moving a below average starter from a position of strength to give him a try at a position of weakness. And that new position also happens to fit his particular skills so there’s reason to believe it’ll work out pretty seamlessly.
Ideally, it would be great for Chido to turn into the solid CB we’ve been hoping for, but it’s just not happening. At some point the Dallas Cowboys must admit they’re unable to re-make him into something he’s not, and allow him to succeed in an area we know he can.
- Published on 11/07/2019 at 13:00 PM
- Last updated at 11/07/2019 at 12:39 PM