Dunta Robinson And Reasonable Expectations

FLOWERY BRANCH GA - JULY 30: Dunta Robinson #23 of the Atlanta Falcons runs drills during opening day of training camp on July 30 2010 at the Falcons Training Complex in Flowery Branch Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

You can't squeeze blood out of a stone. That's an old axiom, but it's no less true now than the first time some hackneyed Greek philosopher blurted it out.

The question, of course, is whether Dunta Robinson is a stone or not. Fans and the team are clearly counting on Mike Nolan to squeeze more production out of Robinson, who hasn't lived up to his large contract thus far in Atlanta. There's reason to think he will.

Dunta began his career in an aggressive, nothing-to-lose 3-4 defense in Houston. While Nolan isn't making a wholesale shift to a 3-4 a priority in his first year in the city, Robinson clearly plays better in man coverage, or at least a little bit of a tighter zone. He has the size and physicality to do so, and his instincts are better geared toward that kind of a scheme. Like many of you, I fully expect Nolan to bring that kind of philosophy change with him.

Given how abysmal Dunta was in 2011--he graded out as one of Pro Football Focus's worst cornerbacks, in fact--there's pretty much nowhere to go but up. If the new scheme really suits him, it's certainly possible that he'll morph back into an above average corner. That would be huge for the Falcons.

The question is whether he will. Dunta has never really been the same since his devastating injury in Houston, and not 100% of that is scheme. It's worth asking if Dunta's just getting older and his skills are eroding accordingly, though he's not yet so old that it should be happening. I personally think we'll see some moderate improvement, enough to make him a valuable enough starter for the Falcons.

How much improvement do you think we can reasonably expect?

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