Matthew Stafford wasted no time finding success in his first year with the Los Angeles Rams, matching a career-high with 41 touchdown passes and leading the team to a Super Bowl title. While he excelled in a lot of areas as a quarterback, he was particularly good against one type of coverage: Cover 2.
According to Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire, Stafford was the best quarterback in the NFL against Cover 2 last season. When facing this zone coverage with two deep safeties, Stafford completed 61 of 85 passes for 841 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. His passer rating on such plays was 126.6, easily picking apart this two-high look.
Cover-2 — zone with two deep safeties — isn’t the ubiquitous coverage it was in the early part of the new millennium, but as defenses are trying to foil opposing quarterbacks with more two-high concepts, you’ll still see a lot of it. Defenses using it against Stafford, however, may want to think twice. Against Cover-2 last season, Stafford completed 61 of 85 passes for 841 yards, 517 air yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions, a passer rating of 126.6. and an ANY/A of 11.1. The commination of Stafford’s arm talent and Sean McVay’s passing concepts factors badly for any defense trying to get over with Cover-2.
One of the biggest plays of the Rams’ season came against Cover 2 when Stafford hit Cooper Kupp for a 70-yard touchdown against the Bucs in the divisional round of the playoffs. Stafford baited the strong safety to the middle of the field, which left Kupp wide open down the right side after the underneath cornerback dropped off to cover the flat.
It was a great throw by Stafford, but an even better use of his eyes and a shoulder fake to move the safety away from his target. It’s the type of play that makes Stafford such a great fit in the Rams offense with the way Sean McVay designs plays.
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