Measuring Dunta Robinson's impact

When the Atlanta Falcons signed cornerback Dunta Robinson to a six-year contract worth about $57 million during the offseason a lot of eyebrows around the league were raised.

The logic from a lot of people was that Robinson wasn’t worth huge money because he’s not a true shutdown corner. But the Falcons think a little differently than most teams. Let’s just say that Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith don’t really believe there is such a thing as a true shutdown corner and, after hearing their logic, I think they’ve got a valid point.

The reasons they signed Robinson went a lot deeper than just signing a good cornerback. Yes, they wanted a No. 1 cornerback and Robinson, at the very least, fits that profile. That’s allowed guys like Brent Grimes and Christopher Owens to be second or third corners, which is what they are. But reflecting even deeper on what Dimitroff and Smith have said about the signing of Robinson, a big part of their logic was that his presence would make the entire defense better.

The Falcons took a lot of criticism for not really doing anything dramatic to improve their pass rush. But they believed guys like John Abraham and Kroy Biermann were close to getting a lot more sacks last year and better coverage in the secondary would allow them to be more productive. The results have been there as Atlanta suddenly has developed a solid pass rush.

Robinson has yet to produce his first interception, but let’s not go saying the Falcons overpaid for him or that he’s a bust. That’s far from the truth. Thanks to ESPN Stats & Information, we’ve got some very concrete and very positive evidence about how much impact Robinson has had on Atlanta’s defense.

The Falcons lead the league in interceptions with 10. They also lead the league in interceptions on the left side of the field with six. That’s as many as the Falcons had on that side of the field all last season.

In fact, Atlanta’s pass defense on the left side of the field has improved dramatically since last year. In 2009, opponents averaged 7.8 yards per attempt on pass plays to the left side of the field and opposing quarterbacks compiled an 85.8 passer rating. This season, the Falcons are allowing only 6.2 yards per attempt on passes to the left side and opposing quarterbacks have a 58.8 passer rating.