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Week 2 Coverage Update: Giants create second-most Perfectly Covered Plays

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is shoved out of bounds by New Orleans Saints safety Justin Evans (30) and safety Marcus Maye (6) during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The league average in Perfectly Covered Plays in Week 2 was 41.4%: Slightly up from last week’s average of 41% and up from the 2019-2021 league average of 38.5%.

Raiders, Giants create most Week 2 perfectly covered plays: Conversely, the Chargers and Seahawks again created the lowest rate of Perfectly Covered Plays.

Broncos and Browns coverage units go from the top 5 in Week 1 to bottom 5 in Week 2 in coverage mistakes: And the Saints are the only team to finish in the top 5 fewest coverage mistakes in both Weeks 1 and 2.

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Estimated reading time: 8 min

Following our extensive research on coverage in football, and the creation of Perfectly Covered Plays and Adjusted Coverage Rate, we now have recent data to analyze from the second week of the NFL season.

Let's evaluate how each team and defender performed in coverage in Week 2. 

Perfectly Covered Plays

• A “Perfectly Covered Play” is where every coverage player on the field earns a coverage grade of zero or better on a single play. Here are the defenses that created the most Perfectly Covered Plays in Week 2, compared to how often their offense faced Perfectly Covered Plays. The league average in Week 2 was 41.4%, slightly up from last week’s average of 41% and up from the 2019-2021 league average of 38.5%.

In a surprising turn of events, the Las Vegas Raiders’ defense created the most Perfectly Covered Plays this week: After struggling immensely from 2019-2021 in this aspect, they even did it while missing their star safety Trevon Moehrig, who was out with a hip injury.

The New York Giants also greatly improved on their Week 1 coverage performance and finished just behind the Raiders.

• On the other hand, for the second week in a row, the Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks coverage units created the lowest percentage of Perfectly Covered Plays.

• In Week 2, the winning team created more Perfectly Covered Plays 11/16 times. However, unlike last week — when the bottom 3 teams won their games — the bottom 7 teams this week in this statistic lost their games. However, even with the Raiders’ strong performance in coverage, they were no match for a Cardinals offense that benefitted from a scrambling Kyler Murray at the end of the game.

Perfectly Covered Plays is not just a defensive stat; preventing such plays is relevant for offenses, too: The Kansas City Chiefs’ offense, full of new wide receivers, was able to confuse the Chargers’ defense and face the least amount of Perfectly Covered Plays, just like the Raiders did in Week 1.

Conversely, the Carolina Panthers’ offense faced the second-highest percentage of Perfectly Covered Plays this week after facing the most in Week 1: Their offense under Baker Mayfield has not been able to get into much of a rhythm yet, so be on the lookout to see if this improves in the coming weeks.


Individual True Coverage Rates 

• Keying in on individual players, we can see who performed the best in coverage this week in terms of their True Coverage Rate, the percentage of the snaps on which they earn a coverage grade of zero or better. 

Note: The True Coverage Rate league average (from 2019-2021) was 80% for cornerbacks, 88% for linebackers and 91% for safeties.

• Eight more safeties had perfect True Coverage Rates in Week 2: Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon continued their dominance in coverage by keeping their perfect True Coverage Rate from last week. Signing Tyrann Mathieu was a key move by the Saints this year, and it’s paid off greatly so far as he was perfect in coverage this week. 

Two Saints linebackers make the top 5: Strong performances locking up the Buccaneers’ pass-catchers, which is nothing new given the Saints’ consistently strong defensive play when facing Tampa Bay’s offense. 

Trevon Diggs only gave up 12 yards to Bengals star WR Ja’Marr Chase: Diggs had the second-fewest coverage mistakes among cornerbacks this week. The Giants and Raiders also continued their coverage dominance this week, as CBs Adoree’ Jackson and Rock Ya-Sin had great days. In fact, the Giants and Raiders both had a player in the top 5 in each position, which ultimately helped their top 2 performances in producing Perfectly Covered Plays. 

Noteworthy Statistics

• It was a Sunday full of comebacks (or chokes depending on how you view it), and poor coverage performances by the Browns, Raiders, and Ravens toward the end of their games let the opposing offenses snatch the win. 

CB Denzel Ward was nowhere near Jets WR Corey Davis: As Davis scored a 66-yard touchdown that sparked the Jets' comeback, and Ward received the lowest coverage grade one can get on a play. To seal the game for the Jets, three Browns’ defenders left Garrett Wilson open (and therefore were graded negatively) on his game winning touchdown. In fact, once the Jets began their late comeback, the Browns defense did not perfectly cover any plays, and their average coverage grade was negative. 

The Raiders consistently created Perfectly Covered Plays throughout Sunday — even when the Cardinals were making their comeback: However, with the Cardinals having a great quarterback that can scramble in Kyler Murray, they already have a leg up, as scrambling on perfectly covered plays has produced the highest EPA for the offense since 2019. That’s just what Kyler Murray did late in the game, which gave the Cardinals the win. 

Ravens coverage unit couldn’t contain and cover Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle: Toward the end of the game, Baltimore consistently allowed big plays that ultimately gave the Dolphins the win. Ravens rookie CB Jalyn Armour-Davis struggled and was graded negatively on nearly every play toward the end of the game, giving up the game-winning touchdown and some big plays that preceded it. The combo of Hill and Waddle is looking to be a major problem for opposing offenses. 

Rookies of the Week

We can also check in on some 2022 draft picks based on how they performed in coverage. The rookies with the highest True Coverage Rates in Week 2 were:

Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker had a perfect day in coverage after struggling in Week 1.

Packers LB Quay Walker gets his second “coverage rookie of the week” honor, slightly edging out Lions LB Malcolm Rodriguez for the second week in a row.

•  It was an off week for rookie cornerbacks, with mid-rounders Samuel Womack (49ers) and Baltimore's Damarion Williams ultimately taking the top spot with identical true coverage rates of 87.5%. Broncos CB Damarri Mathis (53.8%), Jaguars LB Devin Lloyd (76.7%), and Colts S Nick Cross (84.6%) also all received the lowest true coverage rates for their respective positions. Mathis replaced Patrick Surtain II when he left the game with a shoulder injury but couldn’t contain Texans WRs Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins. On the other side of the ball, Texans first round cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. also had a less than stellar day as he consistently got beat by Courtland Sutton, resulting in a low true coverage rate of 62.5%. 

Team-Specific True Coverage Rates (Coverage Mistakes)

• Let's take true coverage rates and calculate which teams made the fewest coverage mistakes (having the highest true coverage rate) and the most coverage mistakes (having the lowest true coverage rate) in Week 2.

The Raiders and Giants created the most Perfectly Covered Plays — and also had the least amount of coverage mistakes this week: They both had standout players in every position this week, which contributed to their top ranking. The Saints’ coverage unit has come out strong to start the season and was the only team to make the top 5 least coverage mistakes in both Weeks 1 and 2.

The Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns coverage units go from the top 5 in Week 1 to bottom 5 in Week 2 in coverage mistakes: Denver will look to get Surtain back as it seeks secondary help to face the 49ers with Deebo Samuel next week.

The Chargers and Seahawks remain in the bottom 5 from last week: Committing the most coverage mistakes, Seahawks’ cornerbacks couldn’t contain the 49ers offense, while Chargers’ key defenders J.C. Jackson and Derwin James again received a hefty sum of negative coverage grades.  

Cumulative Statistics

So far this season, the cumulative Perfectly Covered Play rate is 41.1%: Over the course of the season, we will learn which teams are the most successful at creating Perfectly Covered Plays, and so far, here are the top and bottom 3 teams in terms of their Perfectly Covered Play Rate this season: 

Top 3 in Perfectly Covered Plays in Week 2

• Bengals (59.7%)

• Raiders (55.2%)

Buccaneers (53.5%)

Bottom 3 in Perfectly Covered Plays in Week 2

• Chargers (17.9%)

• Seahawks (21.1%)

Commanders (24.1%)

The Bengals are the only team to stay in the top 3 in creating Perfectly Covered Plays: After a decent performance against the Cowboys, they will face a Jets offense that was able to evade Perfectly Covered Plays from the Browns defense 75% of the time, even after Cleveland had the top coverage performance in Week 1 against the Panthers.

Same three teams bring up the rear: The Chargers, Seahawks, and Commanders all have struggled greatly to create Perfectly Covered Plays, and even though they are all 1-1, they will look to fix their defense’s miscommunications and mistakes. 

Evolving Man and Zone Rates

This week, the league ran man coverage 28.4% of the time, which brings the cumulative average to 27.1%, therefore running zone on 72.9% of plays: Some teams’ man and zone rates will vary by opponent, while some will stay steady throughout the season. We can see how each team’s percentage of running man and zone coverage evolves each week.

• Here are the teams that ran the most man and zone so far this season:

Three highest Man Coverage rates this season

Dolphins (49.3%)

• Lions (46.5%)

• Chargers (44.1%)

Three highest Zone Coverage rates so far in 2022

Bills (92.6%)

• Seahawks (92.1%)

49ers (91.5%)

The Lions remain in the top 3 teams running the most man coverage: And the Dolphins and Chargers ran a massive amount of man coverage this week (73.5% and 59% respectively) to land them in their positions after this week.

The Bills and Seahawks ran slightly more man coverage this week against their opponents after running almost entirely zone in Week 1: Meantime, the 49ers ran zone on almost every play this week.

 


Also check out weekly Man and Zone Analysis articles coming out soon for more in-depth analyses on this and predictions based on Week 3 matchups. 

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