Early on, Dee Alford looked like the best slot cornerback in the NFL. The former CFL star flew around the field for the Atlanta Falcons defense.
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In recent weeks, he has been benched for the veteran Mike Hughes. On the surface, it seems like a strange move by Ryan Nielsen and his staff but when you dive into the numbers, it is evident why Alford was replaced.
Mike Hughes has quietly outplayed Dee Alford for the Atlanta Falcons' surging defense
I have been as critical as anyone when it comes to Mike Hughes. I was critical of Terry Fontenot when he decided to bring in Mike Hughes as Isaiah Oliver's replacement this past offseason. Early on, even in the preseason, Hughes was playing horribly.
With that being said, Hughes has turned things around and he deserves credit.
Dee Alford, meanwhile, started giving up more yards each week and it started around the Tennessee and Minnesota games. Then Alford sat out a game with an injury in week ten, came back after the bye week, and played three games, and since then he hasn't played a single defensive snap.
Mike Hughes has taken his spot and there is no reason to think that will change by the end of the year.
According to PFF's coverage stats, Dee Alford has allowed 1.3 yards per coverage snap while Hughes has allowed .68 yards per coverage snap.
You cannot deny those stats. Hughes has outperformed Alford and deserves to be the starter. It is the same situation on the outside; rookie Clark Phillips has outplayed Jeff Okudah, Phillips deserves to be starting.
The ironic thing is that both of them have taken each other's jobs around the same time. Hughes spent much of the year as the punt returner but was benched for Dee Alford in recent weeks. And this is the third time I have said this: Alford has outplayed Hughes at punt returner so Alford deserves to start.