Hello, long time no see! I hope all has been well on your side of the fence as it has on mine. Just last week, I concluded my first year as a student assistant for a college football program and it felt like a vacation the whole way through. That is an article for another day though as I would like to talk about a topic that is more relevant.
I didn’t get much chance to watch the Broncos while I was working. Every Sunday, we review film of the game we play on Saturday and game plan for our next opponent. Since we started at 9:00 in the morning and didn’t finish until 10:00 at night, I only focused on the football team I was partaking in. That’s not to say I got tired of football, I was just so much more excited in learning about what our football team was doing.
However, now that our season has concluded and the Bronco season is still going, I can give you my thoughts and hopefully get an idea on where the Broncos are at from you guys.
Here is what I have gathered from watching game film of them the past seven hours:
Their running game is a major concern
While I was away, I heard some rumors about John Elway bringing in former All-Pro Evan Mathis and trying to trade for Joe Thomas. I saw Evan Mathis in action but no Joe Thomas which resolved my inquiries as soon as I had them.
After watching film of the Denver OL, I can see why the front office and the coaching staff would want to make some changes there. They make a lot of mistakes that OL like them should not be making at this level. Sometimes, their hat is on the wrong side. Sometimes, they Mis-ID the point which leaves a free hitter to the RB. Sometimes, they don’t drive their knee through the chest of the defender. Sometimes, they don’t get their hands inside the defender and sometimes, they do a combination. These mistakes have cost them big plays not once, nor twice, but multiple times. The RB’s for the most part are making the right reads, but the OL are demonstrating the correct fundamentals in the run game to get the job done.
There was one particular run against the Colts in which the Broncos ran an outside zone to the low shade, which guarantees that they have both numbers and leverage to the play side. In other words, the play was set up to work. And then one of the OL (I think it was #76), just absolutely wiffs on the block to the run side, no step-punch-drive, high pad level, and shitty effort to boot and the defender ends up making the tackle for loss.
It would be one thing if this was just one mistake out of the bunch, but the thing is, this mistake happens often. Evan Mathis has a problem finishing plays, Tyler Polumbus wiffs completely in both run blocking and pass pro, Louis Vasquez doesn’t get his hat to the right side, and Matt Paradis doesn’t keep his hands inside.
I firmly believe that they are going to need to draft a runner in the first couple of rounds of next years draft, or they are going to need to improve the OL. From what I have heard, it seems like John is trying to do precisely this by trading and signing talent. I think this is something that is going to require persistent work. Attention to detail, an emphasis on fundamentals, some work in the weight room for Polumbus, Schofield, and Sambrailo, etc. If you can get someone reliable at T in there, it would help them out tremendously simply because that’s where most of the mistakes are coming from. Since the trade deadline has passed, it has to come from within the organization and I don’t know if they have the personnel to do so. Time to live with what you make I guess…
The Denver D is doing a good job of exploiting protections
One thing that has been very clear to me as I have been watching film is that Wade Phillips has a beat on everyone’s protections. There are free hitters getting to the QB a lot.
They don’t do anything that is revolutionary by any stretch of the imagination. From what I can tell, they are blitzing away from the center turn where the man scheme of the the pass pro is. This usually leaves a 3 on 2 matchup on the weakside and they get guys to the QB. And when they do blitz, their coverage unit does a good job covering long enough for the QB to either a) throw it away b) throw a bad ball or c) pick it off.
What is impressive though is how they manage to do so with so many players. They have been using 4STR/4WK pressures from both the secondary and LB’s, DDOs, DDIs, and DOGs from everywhere. TJ Ward, Von Miller, Shaquille Barrett, DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Marshall, and David Bruton have all gotten free at some point when I have been watching film, and I have only watched four games.
They also do a good job using stunts to put their best players into some good situations. One time, I saw both Demarcus and Von line up in 3 techs and do what our program calls a “Games” where the three techniques both stunt with the end to their side and loop around to get the QB/contain the run. I think Von got there first, but man was it impressive to watch. I have also seen them loop around two other linemen to hit the A gap in get penetration right up the middle (SL STR/SL WK)
The Broncos have been executing this well and I don’t see a reason why this could not continue in the future.
Brock Osweiler is still very young in his development
He has missed some reads and does not where he is going with the ball some of the time. That is why he holds onto the ball too long from what I can tell. In order for him to get better at this, he is going to need some more playing time, which is what he will get, and he is going to have to continue hitting the film room. He needs to be able to identify his reads if he wants to get rid of the football on time.
I think he can become really good as I have written before. Now he just needs to develop as he should and I think he can do just fine. Like all things worthwhile, this might take time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I look forward to enjoying some great football alongside you all.