The 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has seen better days. Considered one of the best young cornerbacks in football, New Orleans Saints defensive back Marshon Lattimore has had his worst season to date so far in his fourth year in the league, culminating in Lattimore giving up five catches for 108 yards, all to Calvin Ridley, during Sunday’s contest vs the Atlanta Falcons. Instead of going through all nine targets that Ridley received while in Lattimore’s coverage, I’ve picked out a select few to go through.
While the first completion that Lattimore conceded to Ridley was the longest at 31 yards, that one was more of the result of Ridley making a great play on a great pass from Matt Ryan in tight coverage from Lattimore. It was good coverage from Lattimore but a better play from Ridley. Sometimes, you just get beat. This one, however, is less forgiving. Lattimore’s keeping up with Ridley step-for-step, that is until Ridley cuts back for a comeback route and leaves Lattimore in the dust for an easy 10-yard catch. Comeback routes, especially against a receiver as good as Ridley, can be tough to cover, but by the time Ridley makes the catch he has a good five yards of separation against Lattimore, which is near unacceptable for a team’s #1 cornerback.
Too easy for Ridley, who disposes of Lattimore off his release. By the time he cuts inside across the middle, he’s wide open for an 18-yard gain.
Lastly for this in-game situation, this is good coverage. 0:20 left on the clock, Saints playing prevent defense and Lattimore is in a good position to make the play after the catch and keep Ridley in bounds, to force the Falcons to sprint to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball at around midfield. However, Lattimore doesn’t make the play. Ridley slips his tackle (bad), gets another ten yards downfield (also bad), and gets out of bounds (situationally BAD). All very not good.
Part of the reason the Saints pass defense struggled mightily at the start of 2020 was because of the play of Lattimore, who gave up at least 50 receiving yards in four of the first six games he played this season. He had turned it around with another great performance against Mike Evans and the Buccaneers before allowing just 16 yards on 2 catches to the 49ers, but when he was tasked with Calvin Ridley he struggled.
Marshon Lattimore Coverage Stats by Season
|2020 (10 games)||55||35||519||5||1||3||117.2|
Taking a look at Lattimore’s stats this season, there are clear signs of regression. He’s allowed 5 touchdowns in coverage this season, which matched his total over his first three years. He’s allowing a catch on 63.6% of targets, and he’s allowed a passer rating of 117.2 when targeted, when his previous career high was a 89.7 rating. Lattimore has had a bad year, and he’s heading into a contract season for a team that is horrifically cap-strapped. Not trying to imply that Lattimore is going to be cut, rather saying that Lattimore needs to prove to the Saints that he wasn’t a flash in the pan during his rookie year, and that he’s worth spending money on.
For my final remarks, a word on Hail Mary defense. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy in football, just bat the ball down.
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