Dallas Cowboys cornerback DaRon Bland has been the talk of the town in Dallas all season. The former fifth-round pick stepped up and drastically improved this season following the injury to Trevon Diggs that sidelined him for the season. Bland showed promise in his rookie season in 2022 when he led the defense in interceptions with five. Since being moved to the outside position in 2023, Bland has taken his game to a new level. Through 12 games, he has eight interceptions, with five of them being returned for a touchdown. Bland broke a single-season record on Thanksgiving with his fifth pick-six of the season. His performance this season has raised conversation that he should be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
When a player performs the way Bland has, it brings a spotlight. This spotlight comes with praise and recognition, but it also comes with scrutiny and added criticism. Bland was the recipient of the latter through the first half of Thursday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The game couldn’t have started any worse for the star corner, when Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf burned him for a 73-yard touchdown on the team’s opening possession. Adding insult to injury, Metcalf later beat Bland again for a 34-yard reception. Bland ended his nightmare first half by being called for a pass interference on a 29-yard pass to WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the end zone. This call put the Seahawks on the one-yard line where they converted with a touchdown pass to Metcalf again.
It didn’t take long for people to turn on Bland. By halftime, social media was flooded with memes critical of Bland’s performance. Many users were already ruling out any possibility of Bland winning the decorated award given to the league’s best defensive player.
Cornerback is widely considered one of the hardest positions in the league. Having to dissect the route a wide receiver is running without committing a penalty has become very difficult in today’s league. One thing defensive back coaches teach is to have a short memory. Even the best at the position get beat occasionally, and it’s about how a player bounces back and responds. Bland chose to bounce back and record his eighth interception of the season with an impressive play on the ball in the second half.
DARON BLAND WITH ANOTHER INTERCEPTION.— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) December 1, 2023
Bland ultimately stepped up and came away with a big interception in the second half of the game. While some may argue that Bland’s performance hurt his DPOY odds, he should still remain in the conversation for the award. A single half of poor performance shouldn’t out-weigh what Bland has done throughout the season.