Next Gen Stats data shows how well the Lions CBs covered Bengals WRs

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The scoreboard might not reflect it, but the young Detroit Lions cornerbacks played about as well as can be reasonably expected in the team’s Week 6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Their coverage on the Bengals’ receiving weapons was not the problem.

The data from NFL Next Gen Stats detailing how much separation the receivers got on average from the coverage reflects well upon the Lions CBs, notably rookie Jerry Jacobs.

Jacobs was the primary coverage on dynamic Bengals rookie WR Ja’marr Chase. And while Chase did beat Jacobs (and the late safety help) for a couple of big plays, overall the Lions rookie covered Chase well. Chase managed just 2.59 yard of average separation on routes, almost exactly the league average of 2.55 per route. The Lions, primarily rookie slot CB AJ Parker, also bottled up Tyler Boyd to just 1.6 yards per route.

By way of comparison, Detroit’s Kalif Raymond averaged well over a yard more of separation (3.94) against the Bengals coverage than what the Lions ceded to Chase and Tee Higgins (2.71). Lions slot receiver Tom Kennedy also did a fine job of getting open at 3.75 yards, though that came on just five routes (one catch). Cincinnati’s Auden Tate averaged over 4.4 yards of separation on his seven routes, though he saw just one target.

Obviously it didn’t make enough of a difference in a 34-11 loss, but it shows that the young secondary is proving capable of growing into something bigger and better. There is more to successful defense than just tight coverage. Detroit missed some tackles and some help assignments, and the pass rush was not impactful most of the game. Given that context, it’s even more impressive how well Jacobs, Parker and Amani Oruwariye fared in the game.

It also demonstrates that the Lions own receivers are generally getting open more than advertised, something film review continues to show every week.