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Stats don't measure Robinson's contributions


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http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/stats-dont-measure-robinsons-780433.html

Atlanta Falcons 2:50 p.m. Friday, December 17, 2010

Stats don't measure Robinson's contributions

By Ray Glier

For the AJC

When you are the multimillion-dollar cornerback, everyone is watching and counting. Interceptions are supposed to be the return on investment.

Dunta Robinson, the Falcons’ 28-year-old cornerback, does not have any interceptions, but he is not running around out there on crutches.

Do you see the quarterback look in Robinson’s direction, then turn away and look for another target because there is a closed window? That’s a disruption of the offense and hard to measure.

Do they see the scheme, which is to play more zone, not press coverage, which does not lend itself to interceptions? What about Robinson’s coverage on the right side, which has forced quarterbacks to throw to the left, where there are three defenders over two, which has resulted this season in a lower passer rating to the quarterback’s favorite side of the field?

Thirteen games into the season, it is not easy to dissect the play of Robinson, the Falcons’ right cornerback. Are you sure you can beat on him because he has hijacked zero passes?

There are no statistics in football more confusing than sacks and interceptions. One defensive lineman’s pressure is another defensive lineman’s trophy called the sack. Who was really responsible for that sack?

Falcons coach Mike Smith said he is not going to measure Robinson’s play by the number of interceptions, not when Robinson’s coverage might make a quarterback look away to another, more harmless secondary receiver or pull the ball down because of tight coverage and get sacked.

“Interceptions are like sacks, sometimes they are overrated,” Smith said. “It’s a matter of ball disruptions or balls coming his way, the routes people run against certain types of corners.

“Dunta is having a very good season for us. When we added him into our defense we felt like we were going to have very good matchups, and when he is out there on the field that has happened.”

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff signed Robinson to a six-year deal in March that included a $7 million signing bonus and guaranteed $25.5 million overall. Robinson, who spent six seasons in Houston, did not make any Pro Bowls and did not have an interception in 2009, but Dimitroff, for now, doesn’t seem to have any regrets.

“Dunta is an incredibly competitive guy,” Dimitroff said. “He's one of the most competitive corners I've ever been around. I love what he stands for as far as his physicality and the way he competes. Unfortunately, he hasn't had the INTs that he wanted so far.

“You have to also remember that Dunta missed quite a bit of time in the offseason with his injury in training camp. I don't care how good you are and how athletic you are, if you are changing from a scheme that you've been using for a long time and this is the first time that you've played this scheme and this technique, there is going to be some transition time.”

It is not an alibi. Robinson missed 31 practices in the preseason with a hamstring injury. He was behind.

What does Robinson have to say about all this? He points to the Falcons' 11-2 record, tied for the best in the NFL. His bottom line is wins and losses, not interceptions.

“Here, there is a system,” he said. “Don’t come out here and try and win the game by yourself. You don’t have to do every single thing. Play hard, and when there is an opportunity to make plays, make them. They don’t need guys jumping routes and doing things they are not supposed to be doing and getting beat for a big play. Your time will come, and you better play as a unit.”

Of course, the conversation might be different if the Falcons were 8-5 or 7-6 and fighting for their playoff lives and there was blame being thrown around.

“The opportunities, hopefully, they will come. They haven’t come thus far. An interception is something a DB loves, but you would prefer them not to throw to your side,” he said. “It’s been since my rookie year that people really tried me. I had six interceptions, and the years after that the ball stopped coming, it stopped being thrown there as much.

“I have had years with one interception, two interceptions, it really doesn’t bother me. As long as I am playing solid football and doing everything the coaches ask me to do, I’m fine with that.”

Robinson has not lost any games by himself, but he might have won one with his deflection of a pass to Arrelious Benn in the end zone at Tampa Bay in the Falcons’ 28-24 victory Dec. 5.

There is another reason the Falcons covet Robinson. He is a hitter in the run game, delivering jarring blows you might expect out of a strong safety.

Sometimes he can be a little too ferocious. His knock on DeSean Jackson of the Eagles gave both a concussion, and Robinson was hit by a fine in the NFL’s crackdown on hits above the shoulders.

That hit betrays Robinson’s personality off the field. He has a gleaming smile and electric personality, which was on display two days before Thanksgiving.

Robinson’s foundation bought 250 turkeys for families, and he handed out 80 turkeys in a multifamily apartment complex in DeKalb County owned and managed by the Initiative for Affordable Housing.

“He had real conversation with the residents, he wasn’t in a rush to leave,” said Lisa Wise, the executive director of the group. “He showed up in gray sweats, he was down to earth, he was humble. There are a bunch of people who feel pretty special that an Atlanta Falcons player came to see them.

“The man brought his mother, he brought his fiancee and his two kids. He signed every autograph, he posed for all the pictures, and his kids handed out autographed pictures. I don’t know what kind of player he is, but he seemed to me to be a really nice guy.”

That Robinson arrived to hand out turkeys, not to be worshipped, is part of what the Falcons are getting for their money. Any organization cherishes its knights off the field.

Smith’s and Dimitroff’s defense of Robinson will be unsustainable if the Falcons break down against the pass in the playoffs. It is the nature of the NFL to look for scapegoats in January.

For now, the bottom line rules. The Falcons are 11-2. There are no scapegoats to herd, and Robinson can continue to play solid football that is better examined by film study than a glance at statistics.

Staff writer D. Orlando Ledbetter contributed to this article.

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“He had real conversation with the residents, he wasn’t in a rush to leave,” said Lisa Wise, the executive director of the group. “He showed up in gray sweats, he was down to earth, he was humble. There are a bunch of people who feel pretty special that an Atlanta Falcons player came to see them.

“The man brought his mother, he brought his fiancee and his two kids. He signed every autograph, he posed for all the pictures, and his kids handed out autographed pictures. I don’t know what kind of player he is, but he seemed to me to be a really nice guy.”

You have to love and appreciate having someone like that not only on our team, but in the community. Great read +1

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Theres a reason Grimes has so many tackles

I see what you're saying but does Grimes do anything by himself or does his success come because of Robinson? Also, the past two weeks opposing teams QB's look at Grimes side first and then look away. By the way, I gave you +1.

Edited by JTRaines92
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Glad to hear we have another player who fits just the bill for an Atlanta Falcons player. Great player, hard worker, good person to have in the community.

It would be unfair to look at a CB in terms of his stats as that never tells the whole story. Some CB's are so good that QB's never throw their way (Asomugha), some CB's are so good that it reflects in the stats of the receiver that they're playing (Darrelle Revis). I'm not saying Robinson is in the league of those two CB's, but Robinson is having a solid, yet quiet season as a CB of his caliber should.

Some fans were upset that we signed Robinson to that type of contract in the offseason. Right now, it's looking like it was really worth it.

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