Why Reggie Stubblefield should be rookie of the year
Alouettes defensive back Reggie Stubblefield has experienced the highs and lows of professional football in his first year. The 25-year-old has overcome adversity to put together a great rookie campaign, and he deserves to be named the rookie of the year in the CFL in 2023.
Stubblefield was one of the final cuts after training camp, but he was brought back into the fold on June 26th because Ciante Evans suffered an injury early in the season. After spending very little time on the practice roster, he made his season debut on July 1st against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In 12 games, Stubblefield has 37 defensive tackles, three on special teams, three quarterback sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
What’s even more impressive is that he’s had to play three different positions during his time with the Alouettes. He started off as a defensive back and a cornerback, but due to injuries to Najee Murray and J.R. Reed, Stubblefield has been forced to move to SAM linebacker.
“Obviously, it talks about his football IQ,” defensive coordinator Noel Thorpe said. “The guy is going to play relentless and fast. He’s been able to play multiple positions for us and he found a home at SAM. When he came in here, we had him at SAM and we moved him to field half-back and he played boundary corner. It’s a testament to his willingness to study. He puts in a lot of time and watches a lot of film. He takes great notes and is a student of the game.”
He’s shown an ability to cover opposing receivers, get after the quarterback and make plays on the ball at critical moments.
Thanks to Pro Football Focus’ Bryson Vesnaver, we were able to get our hands on some advanced stats that prove just how valuable Stubblefield has been to the Alouettes defence.
Among all defensive backs with at least 300 coverage snaps, Stubblefield ranks first in completion percentage allowed (31 percent), first in forced incompletion rate (34.5 percent), first in quarterback rating allowed (16.6), fourth in yards per coverage snap (0.42 yards per snap), and he has the second best PFF coverage grade at 87.4. He has yet to give up a touchdown in coverage all season.
Keep in mind that those aren’t rookie rankings, those are rankings that include every defensive back in the league. Stubblefield has proven time and time again this season that he’s one of the more valuable defensive backs in the CFL.
“He’s put himself in a position to make plays,” added Thorpe. “That’s being a student of the game and being disciplined in your assignments. One thing that stood out to me that nobody is going to see is that he knows everybody’s position on the field. I saw this early with him. This guy knows where everyone else needs to be, not just himself. He has a great understanding of the decent and schemes.”