One of my favorite things about sports is that there’s always something new to learn. I like to think I know quite a bit about a lot of sports, but I’m always coming across something about which I had never thought before.
Today’s random discovery that might only be new to me: man-to-man pass coverage in football is difficult to run because it is much more tiring for the defenders. We always hear that a team doesn’t have the personnel to play man, but I’m not sure I had ever thought about the energy it would take. With zone, there’s a decent chance your corner or safety, or even linebacker, will follow a receiver for 10-20 yards and the play is either over or they pass him off to the next guy. With man, both corners might be running 60 yards down the field every play. This means that good depth is also more important.
While actual player ability and scheme preferences are certainly a bigger part of whether a team runs man or zone, this is something interesting to keep in mind when we’re wondering why the Huskies don’t play more man or when you see a cornerback chasing someone all over the field. Thanks to Mike Lombardi on Bill Simmons’ podcast for the insight.