A.J. Terrell didn’t have the start to 2022 like he probably imagined after he was rewarded with All-Pro honors last season. After allowing three touchdowns across the entire 2021 season, Terrell surrendered three in the first two weeks of the season — two to Michael Thomas and one to Allen Robinson. Through the Falcons’ first two games, the Clemson product gave up nine completions on 11 targets (81.8%) for over 100 yards — a mark he didn’t cross until Week 7 last season. It was fair to wonder if Falcons fans should’ve been worried about a rough start to the season.
I said it then, and I’ll repeat it — Terrell is a great corner in this league but was always going to experience some regression. After allowing the fourth-fewest yards in coverage and posting league-best marks in several other metrics, many expected him to repeat that success. However, it was such a phenomenal season that it was always going to be difficult to replicate, which is why I posed the question, “Is it fair to expect regression from Terrell in 2022?”
And through the first two games, it looked like some severe regression. But he’s played much closer to the All-Pro version of himself the past two weeks against two of the best receivers in the game in DK Metcalf and Amari Cooper. Terrell was credited for giving up a touchdown to Metcalf in Week 3, but from what I saw, the coverage dictated Terrell handing off the wideout to Jaylinn Hawkins, who got over a second too slow. It wasn’t necessarily his fault like the previous three, where Terrell was in one-on-one man coverage.
Coming off back-to-back 100+ yard games, Cooper looked prime to tear apart a shaky Falcons defense in Week 4. But Terrell, who gets knocked for not traveling with opposing teams’ WR1, had other plans. The two lined up across from each other on 27 of Cooper’s 34 routes, and Terrell only surrendered one reception for nine yards on four targets.
A.J. Terrell is still one of the very best corners in this league; it is just the most heavily scrutinized position in football outside of quarterback. Cornerbacks can shut down a receiver all game, then give up one explosive play and be painted in a terrible light. Terrell struggled to begin the season, but he’s back to playing elite football.
Every top-five cornerback list should have Patrick Surtain and AJ Terrell on it right now.
— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) October 3, 2022
Photographer: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire