Because of his relative lack of size, Falcons cornerback Robert Alford isn’t the prototypical cornerback to play in Dan Quinn’s defense.
The system emphasizes bigger players who can press wide receivers at the line of scrimmage even when in zone coverage. Alford also had to learn to play nickel back for the first time this season when rookie Jalen Collins, who does have the ideal size for the defense, played right cornerback in the nickel defense.
But after an up-and-down third season with the Falcons, Alford said he believes he can thrive in Quinn’s system.
“I feel I fit really well,” Alford said. “Wherever they need me to play, I’m willing to play. I have no complaints about where I’m playing at. I’m going to always go 100 (percent) wherever I’m at.”
Alford made the move to nickel back after Saints quarterback Drew Brees completed 31 of 39 passes during an Oct. 15 game. But Collins struggled for six games as an outside cornerback, and so Alford moved back outside on all downs and Philip Adams reclaimed his job as the nickel back.
Alford’s issues with drawing penalties for being too aggressive continued this season. He was penalized nine times, second-most on the team, including four flags for pass interference, one for illegal contact and one for defensive holding.
The low point for Alford came during the 38-0 loss at Carolina when he allowed 7 receptions on 10 targets with two touchdowns and was penalized three times. But Alford recovered from that bad game and was solid over the final three weeks.
“It was me just going back and watching film,” Alford said. “From the first five games to the last five games, things I needed to improve in that I saw myself doing at the beginning of the season that I started (slacking) off towards the end.”
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