DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 12: Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos throws a pass during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Every offensive drive has two key plays: the final play of the drive whether a touchdown, turnover, or failed 3rd down conversion, and the "killer" play, the one that put the offense at a significant, and ultimately unrecoverable disadvantage.
Below we would like to review the Week 1 offensive drives. 11 drives, 11 key plays. Out of the 11, unsurprisingly, only a single one could be measured as any sort of significant success. But in looking at the others, there are multiple instances of fixable mistakes.
This should be repeated: these mistakes aren't part of this Denver team's DNA, and none of them are obviously systemic. In some cases, they were a mere horsehair away from being especially good plays.
One thing is for sure, this team's best football is still ahead of them this year...
Join us below the fold to check out the video review, and the in depth play-by-play.
(Before we get started I would like to give a shoutout to miner00 and his recent post "Blown Opportunities..." I guess great minds DO think alike!)
Drive 1: -6yd loss on a run on 2nd and 9 (12:35 1st Quarter)
(early notes: 5 man front, toss left to Moreno, tried to bounce outside of Clady block)
Keys on the play are Julius Thomas on SS to open up the edge. Also Beadles should have picked up Seymour rather than help Fells on Shaughnessy. Thomas’ missed block prevents Clady from reaching his block and forces the play to drift instead of get turned up, and Seymour’s penetration closes off any sort of backside escape. Of note is Clady on the pulling block, Walton releasing to 2nd level, Kuper cutting Henderson, and Franklin missing an angle block (or horribly missing a cutblock) which also helped release the backside.
Drive 2: Incomplete pass to TE on 3rd and 5 in the redzone (10:04 1st Quarter)
(early notes: trips left, Kuper in a boxing match with Kelly, loses helmet. Orton under pressure rushes throw against zone coverage. Incomplete to Fells, Moreno vs the checkdown trickling out late)
Orton appears to be forcing throws to the TEs in the redzone, and early in the game in general. These are zone beating complementary routes designed to one by one pick up zone defenders and clear areas of the field. Kyle first checks the action on the trips side of the field, then comes back to the TE alone on the backside of the play, but not only is he covered, there is safety help right there too. Orton is stepping up vs. a 4-man rush and feels pressure from Kelly against Kuper collapsing the pocket, and his arm is hit as he releases. The final clearout is the decker and Moreno routes with Moreno coming open around the 4 yard line, but Orton had already made his decision. Key on the play, Orton rushing decision in the face of right side pressure.
Drive 3: -10yd loss on holding penalty on 1st and 10 (#74) (5:03 1st Quarter)
(early notes: Franklins’ first penalty of his career! --following play is a passing set vs. 8 man box, deflected at LOS. Kyle needs to find throwing lanes vs. 6’6" DTs (all 3 of them) --next play is a draw to manage 2nd and long distance --3rd down vs safety blitz, with MLB rushing, Orton finds Lloyd on hot route, blitz picked up, hot route night quite deep enough to convert for a 1st)
On a screen pass to Fells, Franklin gives up too much of the edge against the rush OLB Wembley and gets called for a somewhat ticky-tacky hold. Next play is tipped by Henderson. On the draw, Royal turning his block inside could have sprung the play. Lloyd’s "Hot93 Slant" route is a classic 3rd and long call giving him a chance to run in space and find his seam up the field, but Chris Johnson in Zone makes great play, speeding down to make tackle from behind.
Drive 4: Moreno fumble on 1st and 10 (13:28 2nd Quarter)
(nice cut off left side out of I-formation) Good overall play, Knowshon big mistake not covering with 2 hands when he felt that pressure coming from the side. When a RB gets leaned out over his toes he needs to be thinking about both hands on ball.
Drive 5: False start on 2nd and 10 (#73) (8:32 2nd Quarter)
(After a bailout scramble by Orton, playcalling gets greedy and looks long for Lloyd vs. man to man. 2nd and long, Kuper false starts, part of long tough day vs. Tommy kelly. Next play is 4 man rush, good pressure, big coverage, dropped pass. Next play is 4 man pressure, throwaway)
Kuper false start is just a brain fart by him, Orton is still calling protections when he goes.
Pressure from OAK front 4 building steadily. On next play Beadles is owned by DT Bryant, forces inaccurate throw. Next play Franklin whiffs on protection call and Kup loses the outside shoulder to Kamerion Wimbley. Pressure breaks down pocket and reads, Orton throws it away.
Drive 6: Incomplete pass on 3rd and 10 (4:22 2nd Quarter)
(early notes: this starts on 1st and 10, Denver gets a good defensive coverage to throw against, runs a set of hi-lo routes to get Royal open off of Julius Thomas legal pick, Orton short hops it (pressure getting to him?). On 2nd and 10 Orton gets his clock cleaned on safety blitz, when Thomas fails to slide in protection and pick up the A gap. 3rd and 10, Orton sees the safety blitz lining up, tries to change the play, but has to rush with only 2 secs on playclock. Tosses up the fade to Lloyd, but it is inaccurate, due to rushing it.)
On Hi-lo routes Orton looks like he second guesses the throw the just enough to not get it out quick enough or with enough zip, dirt ball. On the rushed 3rd down throw, Orlando Franklin fails to pick up blitzing DB on his own.
Drive 7: Interception on 2nd and 10 (:32 2nd Quarter)
(early notes: 4 man rush, Orton, Lloyd not on same page, Orton tossing up a man-beating underthrow vs zone coverage, Lloyd runs zone beating streak, safety reads play and makes INT)
Drive 8: -7yd loss on sack on 3rd and 5 (2:31 3rd Quarter)
(early notes: after great throw on run and run after catch by Orton and Moreno, to get down to 1st and goal, with both OL and DL running hot tempers, Denver has zero success on the run, has an inaccurate pass from Orton, and finally, with good protection Beadles doesn't sustain a block against Seymour for a sack.
On the running play Beadles gets buried by his defender, destroys running lane. On the inaccurate pass Orton realizes at the last second that the SS is in position to make the play and he tries to move it down and behind Lloyd, but pulls it too far down. On the sack the main key is the great coverage downfield. Seymour eventually slips off the block.
Drive 9: Orton Fumble on 1st and 10 (14:13 4th Quarter)
(early notes: after 34 yards on 2 plays, Denver has perfectly set up a slow Tight end delay to TE Daniel Fells, but ball slips out of Orton’s hand.)
The fake pitch is designed to move the pocket over the right hashmark, well designed, well executed, Fells comes open on the drag route.... slick balls.
Drive 10: -9yd loss on sack on 1st and 10 (10:14 4th Quarter)
(early notes: raiders run a DE-DT twist over Clady-Beadles. Beadles loses track, bumps Clady off his block, DT gets inside edge on Clady)
Not a full on stunt call, more of a twist. Clady and Beadles need to be able to hand off that pass pro, especially with RB help on the outside.
Drive 11: Touchdown throw to #35 on 3rd and 4 (3:49 4th Quarter)
(early notes: edge pressure, but all route concepts are quick ones, Ball releases early on Kyle’s protection call. Orton finds him as the quick checkdown, Ball jumps over Porter and scores.)
The final drive, and the final TD are a good example of how the Denver Broncos can go about righting some of their errors and inadequacies. The play for the TD in a lot of ways mirrors the earlier trip near the goalline where Orton took a sack. The second time around however, the RB doesn't chip anyone, gets through the LOS quicker and sits down in the coverage immediately instead of dragging along the underside of the zone.
The result? Orton gets a checkdown throw sooner, and with more time and room to make the play. Kudos to Ball for finishing off the play, but good effort from the Broncos to adjust and get it right.
Also on a production note, this was a joint project between me and football genius Jeremy Bolander.