NFL News & Analysis

Premium Content Sign Up

Should NFL teams be playing more man or zone coverage?

Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens free safety Brandon Stephens (21) and cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) react after breaking up a Minnesota Vikings pass during the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

• If a coverage unit has the advantage over the opponents' receivers, then it is more beneficial to play man coverage.

• As for the opposite scenario, these findings confirm that zone coverage limits the range of outcomes and likelihood of an offense creating a big play.

• For more insights on evaluating coverage in the NFL, read up on the “Adjusted Coverage Rate” metric.

All PFF+ subscribers now have access to our revamped fantasy football draft guide, which has all the streamlined and intuitive features you’ll need to dominate your draft this season. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR PFF+ AND TRY IT FREE TODAY

Which coverage should teams play more of: man or zone?

Let’s first outline what we know about man coverage and what we know about zone coverage. In their simplest forms, man coverage is when a player is guarding an opposing receiver and zone coverage is when a player is guarding an area of the field.

Using perfectly covered plays as a proxy, on the team level we can see that man coverage is more stable year-to-year than zone coverage.

Not only is man coverage more stable, but there is essentially no stability in how well a team performs in zone in Year N and how well they perform in Year N+1.

Subscribe to PFF+ to continue reading

Already have a subscription? Sign In

You've got the first pick with your finances. Western Southern Financial Group.

NFL Featured Tools


Unlock all tools and content including Player Grades, Fantasy, NFL Draft, Premium Stats, Greenline and DFS.

$9.99 / mo
$79.99 / yr