The Next Gen Stats for the Lions pass defense vs. Miami are scary bad
Just when you thought Halloween was over and the time for scary things was done, the finer points of the Detroit Lions pass defense against the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 rears its ugly head.
We knew it was bad already. Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa shredded the Lions secondary for 382 passing yards on the day before Halloween, with speedy wideouts Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combining for almost 300 receiving yards. How easily Miami picked up those yards now has some advanced statistical explanation.
From the Zebra Technologies Next Gen Stats weekly summary email:
Tua Tagovailoa carved up the Lions’ defense on Sunday, going 29/36 for 382 yards (most among QBs this week) and 3 TDs. His 95 NGS passing score was tied for the highest this season (with Jacoby Brissett, also Week 8). Tagovailoa had an expected completion percentage of 66.9% – with his 13.6% completion percentage over expected clocking in at 2nd highest among QBs this week. He also did not record a single ‘aggressive’ passing attempt, meaning not a single one of his attempts was made into tight coverage, where there was a defender within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the time of completion or incompletion. Tagovailoa also led the league with an average completed air yards of 11.
In plainer English, the Lions’ pass coverage was never close enough to the receiver to force Tagovailoa to make a difficult throw or produce a contested catch situation. It was the worst coverage performance in the NFL all season, based on those Next Gen Stats.
The section on Waddle and Hill and their easy, prolific days reinforces just how dismal Detroit’s defense performed in Week 8:
Tyreek Hill & Jaylen Waddle combined for over 200 yards on targets traveling 10+ air yards in the Dolphins’ Week 8 victory over the Lions. On such passes, Waddle racked up 5 receptions, 81 yards, 2 TDs on 5 targets while Hill recorded 7 receptions, 164 yards on 9 targets. Overall, Hill was targeted on 55.71% of Tagovailoa’s air yards resulting in week-leading 12 catches (tied 1st) and 188 yards receiving (1st) among pass catchers. The duo have been the most productive receivers on vertical routes this season by a significant margin. Hill has now gained 502 yards on vertical routes while Waddle has 400 yards.
About the only solace is the final line there. Miami’s dynamic receiving duo has been doing this to everyone, not just Detroit.
A couple of extra points here. First, Tagovailoa targeted the receiver covered by CB Jeff Okudah just once all afternoon, per PFF’s tracking. Second, the Lions recorded eight QB pressures on Tagovailoa and five of those came on plays where Detroit brought extra pressure. On those plays, the Dolphins completed just two passes and Detroit finished off two sacks. Tagovailoa continues to be in the top five in the league in both air yards per attempt and quickest time to throw, a lethal combination for all defenses but a fatal one for Lions DB coach and passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant’s job.
Thanks to Tim Klein at Zebra Technologies for the scary info!