• 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.
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.