A.J. Terrell broke out in his second season with the Falcons in 2021 and was predictably rewarded with All-Pro honors, even if he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl. He went from an average cover man to being named second-team All-Pro in just one offseason.
Terrell allowed the fourth-fewest yards in coverage among all defensive backs with at least 1,000 snaps last year and was first among cornerbacks. He posted league-best marks in several metrics, including completion percentage allowed (41.1%) and yards allowed per target (4.1).
It’s fair to say Terrell’s second season in the league was one of the most impressive year-to-year improvements we’ve seen from a Falcons player. However, it was such an outstanding year 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?”
Terrell is having a rough start to the year. After giving up three touchdowns across the entire 2021 season, the Clemson product has surrendered three in the first two weeks of the 2022 season — two to Michael Thomas and one to Allen Robinson. The touchdowns from Week 1 were the product of great play from the offense; you just have to tip your cap. However, the touchdown given up against the Rams was pretty ugly. Terrell was badly beaten off the line of scrimmage and never contested the throw.
Michael Thomas over A.J. Terrell 👀
— PFF (@PFF) September 11, 2022
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) September 19, 2022
Terrell has been targeted 11 times through two games and given up nine completions — an 81.8% completion percentage compared to 50% last year. Opposing quarterbacks have a 144.1 rating when targeting Terrell this season, compared to 61.0 in 2021. Terell is giving up 9.1 yards per target through two weeks, which is nearly twice as much as last year. He’s given up 100 yards receiving — a mark he didn’t cross until Week 7 of last season.
Terrell has been objectively worse this year, but I don’t think this is who he is. Like most things, he’s probably somewhere in the middle. He’s certainly not going to give up 30+ touchdowns this year, but he’s also not going to give up three all year again. Terrell is a foundational piece of this team, one of the best players at his position, and a leader. Corners in this league are dealt a bad hand. No matter how good they play, a single off week can change opinions quickly.
Terrell should regress back to the mean over the course of the season to a well-above-average player. The Falcons, nor their fans, should be worried.
Photographer: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire