LIONS INSIDER

Twentyman: Stafford seeing more man coverage from Eagles

Posted Oct 10, 2012

The NFL is a copycat league and the game tape has shown that teams have had success against the Lions playing two-high zone coverage and taking away the big play.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford was asked Wednesday how much man coverage he’s actually seen through four games this season. He paused for a couple of seconds to think about it and then estimated it to be about five snaps.

“One of the benefits of teams playing soft is that if we catch it, they still got four of five guys ready to rally to the ball,” Stafford said. “If they have one guy back there and you make the guy miss, then it’s a big play.”

It's those big plays that have been lacking from the Lions offense this season.

Through the first four games  – three of which have been losses – the Lions have had 17 plays of 20-plus yards, but only three of the 30-yard variety.

“We need explosive plays whether it be through the run or the pass, we don’t really care,” Stafford said. “We want plays of 20 yards or more and those equal points in this league.”

The NFL is a copycat league and the game tape has shown that teams have had success against the Lions playing two-high zone coverage and taking away the big play.

In preparing for Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, Stafford said the Eagles have shown more man coverage on tape than any of the other four teams they’ve prepared for this season.

The Eagles have two of the better cornerbacks in the league in Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers Cromartie. Both players are 6-2, physical and excel in man coverage.

“Every team is different and these guys have corners who can play,” Stafford said of the Eagles. “You look at them on tape and they are shutting guys down and doing a heck of a job.

“They play a lot of two-high safety schemes, but they have a lot of man concepts within them. That’s what you see a lot of on tape. Some single-high. Probably more than some team’s we’ve watched, but they have guys that can really cover.”

But will the Lions see some of the same man coverage looks on Sunday or the mainly zone coverage they’ve been seeing?

“Well, the one thing is we try to roll our coverages,” Eagles head coach Andy Reid said in a conference call. “You know, that’s what we’ve done in the past where we don’t just play one thing.

“Up to this point we play some man, we play some zone, we’re very capable of doing whatever we need to do there and that’s what we’ll go about doing. We’ll figure out what’s best or what we feel is best to play the Lions and then go with that.”

Stafford joked with the media Wednesday that he’s hoping for man coverage with Calvin Johnson and some of his other weapons on his side, but is preparing for just about anything.