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Why Franchising Dunta Robinson is the Right Move

Placing the franchise tag on Dunta Robinson, who is holding out from the Texans voluntary off season conditioning program, is the correct call from Rick Smith and the Texans brain trust. Now, I’m not just drinking the Kool-Aid and toeing the team line. This move makes long term financial and football sense.

Let’s start with the football sense. Dunta is the best corner on the Texans. When healthy, that is. Last year, upon his late season return, he provided an emotional kick start to the defense but was far from the player he used to be on the field. Dunta came back from a serious injury and nearly a year long recovery and rehab. He played at close to 80% last year. In terms of courage and heart, Dunta was at 100%. You won’t find a bigger Dunta Robinson fan than me.

I hear you saying that 80% of Dunta is better than Jacques Reeves, but let’s be honest here. Dunta is a good corner. Is he one of the best 5 in the league, as his new salary indicates he is? Maybe, maybe not. Is an injured Dunta Robinson one of the best 5 corners in the league? Certainly not.

Placing the tag on him and giving him a year to prove he is healthy and a top player does not put the team in a bind. Young corners Antwaun Molden and Fred Bennett are solid and developing players. Nobody is calling either of them the next Deion Sanders and Champ Bailey, but they’re not exactly bottom of the barrel corners. Let the Texans find out what they have in the secondary without paying $30 million guaranteed to a player who has his hamstring torn from the bone.

I also hear you saying you can never have enough good corners. But I hear you saying good corners. The Texans don’t know what they have in Dunta, yet. Let’s wait till next year to make this decision.

From a financial and risk management standpoint, a one year deal makes sense. Dunta has his chance to prove he is worth the money elite corners earn. The team keeps Dunta for at least one more year. If he is back to where he was, lock him up long term. If he’s not, the Texans can walk away without being saddled with a huge salary albatross.

What if Dunta’s best position becomes free safety? Would any team pay top corner money to a safety, unless it had a true game breaker like Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu? No. Why should the Texans?

Let’s look at this one year contract is an experiment. Dunta can prove he can play corner with the best in the league and can get paid like one. Or, he will show he can’t play like the top corners and the Texans won’t be stuck with a third corner earning top dog money (besides Jacques Reeves).

Or, Dunta could prove to be a solid free safety and will get paid by either the Texans or another team to patrol the middle of the field.

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4 Responses to “Why Franchising Dunta Robinson is the Right Move”

  1. Trey says:

    I like what you’ve put down here. This DOES make perfect sense. If he performs well, he’ll get his money midseason. If not, then the Texans lose the minimal amount by using the franchise tag even if the Raiders (Asomugha) DID push that price way up. My money’s on him performing VERY well considering what’s at stake. One thing, though. I thought Reeves’ poor play was overstated. I thought he played well, especially the second half of the season. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve.

  2. Vik Vij says:

    Trey, thanks for your comment. I realize I’m being a bit hard on Frenchy Reeves, but he was not good. Not for the money the Texans paid him. Not for a starting corner in the pass happy AFC. If Reeves was the nickle or dime corner, that’s one thing, but he was on the field way too much for his level of play.

  3. Jordy says:

    Good stuff again, Vik. I agree with Trey…and the statistics about Reeves. Here’s one of John McClain’s blogs talking about Reeves’ numbers:

    Have I got some interesting stats for you Reeves haters. Remember during the season when fans and media were killing him, and I went to STATS, Inc., to find out just how bad he was, and it turned out he wasn’t so bad after all?

    As I said then, and I’m saying now: I’m not portraying Reeves as a great player or a good player; I’m just using evidence to show he played better than a lot of fans thought.

    I wondered during the season why the coaches kept playing Reeves and why they kept telling me he was playing better than many of us thought, so I went to STATS, Inc., which charts just about everything in the NFL.

    I remember when I wrote it during the season, and some of you said, “Yeah, so what? He’s still terrible,’ because you didn’t want to believe the statistics that showed he wasn’t terrible and that he was playing a lot better for the Texans than he played in Dallas.

    Reeves haters remember the plays he didn’t make and not the ones he made. And because he doesn’t look for the ball on many of the plays, it infuriates a lot of fans even more.

    Anyway, here’s an example of what I’m talking about, thanks to STATS, Inc.: How many touchdowns do you think Reeves allowed?

    Three, tying him for 64th most in the league. Surprised? I am. He had 109 passes thrown at him, and he gave up only three touchdowns – the same as Dunta Robinson, who was thrown at 49 times.

    Here are some defensive backs who had fewer passes thrown at them and surrendered more than twice as many touchdowns as Reeves: Ellis Hobbs (nine), Rod Hood (nine), Ronde Barber (eight), Dwight Lowery (eight), Nate Clements (seven), Deltha O’Neal (seven), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (seven) and Marcus Trufant (seven).

    Here are some defensive backs who allowed twice (six) as many touchdown passes as Reeves: Quentin Jammer, Lito Sheppard, Anthony Henry and Eric Green.

    Here’s the stat I find the most shocking: Reeves was thrown at 109 times, and he allowed 53 completions. That’s a percentage of 48.6.

    Check out some cornerbacks who had a lot of passes thrown at them and allowed a lot higher percentage of completions: Antonio Cromartie (69.0), Dre’ Bly (67.0), Sheppard (65.9), Barber (64.9), Aaron Ross (64.6), Henry (64.0), Charles Tillman (63.9), Jammer (62.7), Trufant (60.2), Terance Newman (59.7), Cortland Finnegan (57.1), Clements (56.0), Rodgers-Cromartie (55.4) and Asante Samuel (52.8).

    Here are some other interesting statistics to compare to Reeves (53 of 109 for 48.6 and three touchdowns): He was booed out of Dallas, and Cowboys fans laughed at the Texans for signing him. Henry, who was traded to Detroit for backup quarterback Jon Kitna, had 89 passes thrown at him. He allowed 57 completions for 64.0 percent and six touchdowns. Newman, the Cowboys’ best defensive back, was thrown at 72 times. He allowed 43 completions for 59.7 percent and two touchdowns.

    Dunta Robinson, who played at about 90 percent after coming off the physically unable to perform list, was 33 of 49 for 67.3 percent and three touchdowns. Fred Bennett was 39 of 66 for 59.1 percent and three touchdowns.

    By the way, Finnegan, who went to the Pro Bowl for the Titans, didn’t allow a touchdown even though 91 passes were thrown at him.

    And if you’re wondering why Oakland signed Nnamdi Asomugha to a new contract that averages $28 million a year, here’s why: He’s the best corner in the league. Here’s how much respect he got last season. Opponents threw only 35 passes at him all season. They completed 18 (51.4 percent) with no touchdowns.

    So what do you make of all this? My point this time as it was last time is that Jacques Reeves played better than a lot of his critics want to believe. Anyway, let me know what you think, please.

  4. Vik Vij says:

    Interesting statistics, Jordy.

    To play devil’s advocate, I wonder how many of those passes that were “defended” were second or third options because other routes were covered. Just wondering.

    I’m sure Reeves is not anywhere near as bad as I think, but I don’t think he’s a starting caliber corner in the (let me channel by best Ron Jaworski) National Football League.

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