Film Study: Chiefs Defense v. Broncos, 1st Half

"Dude, that game sucked" "Yeah tell me about it!" - Doug Pensinger

Hey fellow MHR's, take a look at how the Chiefs defense matched up against our offense during the 1st game!

This film study is a little bit different in that I'm not examining one particular concept or trying to answer a concrete question. This time around, I wanted to map out each drive play by play and include our personnel groupings as well as their coverage schemes (when applicable). From there, I'll choose a key play or two from that drive that either points to the success or failure of that drive. I suppose the overall curiosity that led to this was the fact that this Chiefs defense is the only to hold us below 20 points (17). So how did they do it? Do they have some sort of Manning kryptonite the rest of the league has yet to discover? Well, let's have a look!

Drive 1

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Singleback (Tamme, Moreno)

N/A

2yd run

2-8

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 2 Man Under

-4 yd pass (Moreno)

3-12

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 2 Man

Under

Incomplete (Stokley drop)

4-12

Punt

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From the first drive we can see that the Chiefs defense chose to defend the pass by playing a cover 2 shell with man coverage underneath.

Play #1, Drive #1, 3-12, Stokley's drop

The Broncos are in Shotgun, 11 personnel with Tamme and Moreno. The Chiefs again play Cover 2 over the top with man coverage underneath. The Broncos have three receivers to the left (Tamme is lined up outside of Franklin). On that side they will run a comeback, post (Stokley, intended receiver), and short cross. To the left they will run an out and in.

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At this point Stokes has his man beat by a step and the ball is out.

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Stokes has it but lands awkwardly on his left shoulder and the ball comes out, incomplete.

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This drive never really got going. A poor checkdown on 2nd down put the Broncos in a 3rd and long. Then a sure 1st down is squandered when Stokes can't hang onto the ball. Nothing really special here as far as defense, the Broncos simply didn't execute.

Drive 2

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Shotgun—max protect (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 1 (corner blitz)

Sack (Clady) -8 yards

2-18

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 2 Man Under

5 yd pass (Stokley)

3-13

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Quarter, Quarter, Half

29 yd pass (Decker)

1-0

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 1

8 yd pass (Stokley)

2-2

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

Holding Penalty

2-11

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2 Man Under

Incomplete

(Decker)

3-11

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 2 Man Under

Incomplete (Thomas drop)

4-11

Missed FG 47 yds

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Now for the most part, the Chiefs are sticking with Cover 2 to prevent big plays over the top. The first play of the drive where they bring a corner blitz----they legitimately play Cover 1 here. The next one on first down, is more the Broncos taking advantage of their 11 personnel grouping from a run look. There the safety crashes down playing run but his role is more read and react than anything. On the play to Decker, they seem to be playing three guys deep----two of them taking quarters of the field with one taking half. I'm going to look at two plays on this drive, the first being the sack, the second being the long completion to Decker.

Play #2, Drive #2, 1-10, Manning gets sacked

The Broncos, as usual are in 11 personnel. From shotgun Moreno lines up on Manning's left while Dreessen lines up on Manning's right. Man across the board with a safety playing centerfield. The corner blitz comes from Manning's left which brings Dreessen over to the side to protect.

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At this point Manning has Knowshon open in the flat, but he's looking downfield for one of his receivers to beat their man.

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At this point no one is open and Hali comes around Clady pretty cleanly for the sack.

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A combination of good coverage and a good rush by Hali make this play happen.

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Play #3, Drive #2, 3-13, Completion to Decker

11 personnel, with Tamme and Moreno. We have a cool route combination from the trips at the bottom of the screen---and this is one tactic to use when trying to beat man coverage. The inside guy is going to run an in/out pivot, the middle guy is running a straight vertical, and the outside guy will run a deep in. Just from watching the play in motion, the go clears out one guy and makes the safety come with him. This route is key because it will leave the two underneath routes in one on ones.

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And here's why I opted to call the coverage Q,Q,H....The guy with the red arrow, he's going to open up his hips parallel to the sideline in order to protect the deep area of the field between the boundary and the numbers.

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It could be the trips formation, and this very well could be Cover 2, the only thing is when the Chiefs have played Cover 2 to this point, their man coverage underneath has been tight, and the corner certainly didn't show leverage protecting the deep portion of the field.

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Regardless, that leverage gives Decker the only separation he needs once he cuts into the middle of the field. The vertical has successfully taken the safety that way, and there is a big, gaping hole in the middle of the field.

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There's the completion, and look at all the real estate he has to run on from there----great play design.

What doomed this drive other than the missed FG at the end, was the holding penalty committed by the offensive line on 2nd and 2. It negated a 9 yard Moreno run and put the Broncos in two long passing downs on 2nd and 3rd. A drop stalled the first drive, a penalty stalled this one.

Drive 3

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

4 yd run

2-6

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Single safety, man outside, zone underneath

9 yd pass (Moreno)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 3

7 yd pass (Tamme)

2-3

11, Shotgun-Empty (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 1

5 yd pass (Moreno)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Hillman)

Cover 2 Man Under

INT (Decker)

In this drive we see a mix of coverages. Part of it is due to the Broncos gaining positive yardage on short completions which in turn provides the offense with more favorable down and distance and therefore more flexibility. Manning uses the flats and short checkdowns to move the ball patiently down the field. That is until the final drive killing play----an INT thrown into double coverage. I've already analyzed this play in a previous film study---so this guy is gonna use an old trick called "cut and paste" ;)

Play #4, Drive #3, Manning INT

The coverage to me seems like Cover 2 Man Under. The target here is going to be Decker who is running a somewhat skinny post. I say that because he actually runs a bit outside the numbers to try and stretch his man a bit more outside. Perhaps by doing this it will give him a bit more room when he cuts toward the middle. The safety to the strongside of the formation reads Decker as the only man coming deep and both him and the CB end up getting a good bracket on him.

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Manning_int_kc_2_medium

Manning_int_kc_3_medium

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Manning looks here the whole way. Earlier in the route he has Thomas wide open short in the middle, and Stokely is more open than Decker if Manning throws it toward the sideline to his outside shoulder. But Manning forces the ball into double coverage and it gets picked. If he underthrows the ball, Decker makes the catch or it's PI guaranteed. Still a very, very poor decision off of playaction.

Manning_int_kc_5_medium

Drop, penalty, INT----I'm sensing a theme here....the Broncos are doing everything in their power to keep the Chiefs in the game at this point. That is until the next drive when the Broncos manage to score a TD to go ahead 7-6.

Drive 4

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2, Robber

15 yd pass (Thomas)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

10 yd run

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 1, Corner Blitz

31 yd pass

(Stokley)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

5 yd run

2-2

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

1 yd run

3-1

11, Shotgun (Dreesen, Moreno)

Cover 1

1 yd pass ( (Dreessen

1-10

21, Shotgun (Hillman, Holliday)

Cover 1

Sack (Franklin) -4 yards

2-14

21, Shotgun (Hillman, Holliday)

Cover 2

22 yd pass (Tamme)

1-Goal

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

1 yd run

2-Goal

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Zone

2 yd pass (Decker)

3-Goal

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Quarter, Quarter, Half

TD pass 7yd (Tamme)

Here we have more of an attempt to establish a running game. Before this, the Broncos had attempted to run the ball a total of 3 times. Early on in this drive Moreno got some good yardage to move the chains. Also, we see some variation in the personnel as the Broncos used both Hillman and Holliday in the backfield. I am very intrigued on this grouping. Both times Holliday ran a route straight from the backfield while Hillman stayed behind to protect.

Again the "Cover 1" calls on this drive are more indicative of the Chiefs using the 2nd safety inside the box to guard against the run. Also on the drive we see another sack---Franklin was beat by Houston straight up. Overall to this point the Broncos had some issues with the Chiefs edge rushers. To balance that, they lined up Dreessen quite a but to the side they were having trouble with in order to help. That's also why he's seen so many more snaps in the first half than Tamme. For this drive, I'm going to take a look at the 31-yarder to Stokley as well as the TD play.

Play #5, Drive #4, Completion to Stokley

Broncos are in 11 personnel, the Chiefs are going to play a single safety over the top, man underneath, and they're going to bring a corner blitz. The Broncos will run a post, comeback, and deep in----this is Stokes' route and the big gainer.

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Looking at the bottom snip, Franklin is beaten around the edge, Manning steps up into the pocket though and buys some more time.

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The rush is about to get there when Manning releases the ball. Stokley has a step on his man. With the blitz and man coverage across the board, he has lots of room to run. Perfect call against this coverage.

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Play #6, Drive #4, TD to Tamme

To cap off the drive, the Broncos are in shotgun, 11 personnel. The Chiefs are going to drop seven into coverage with three deep men taking half, quarter, quarter respectively. The corner up top is going to flip his hips so that he's facing inside---he's protecting the boundary and depending on what will come this way, he also has safety help over the top.

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On the other side of the field the Broncos are in trips formation. Decker is going to stretch outside and then run a post. Stokley will come inside of that and run the same concept. Tamme in the inside is going to run an out/in pivot route and this is the read.

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All zone on this side of the field. You can see the other two routes take the coverage with them, and the out makes he other cover guy hesitate just enough.

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Tamme is wide open, the much bigger body against the DB, with about 5 yards of separation. Manning makes the throw and Tamme powers his way into the endzone for a TD.

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1st half Recap

Here's a look at all of Peyton Manning's attempts in the 1st Half----and their outcome:

Route

Gain

Left flat

-4 (Moreno)

Skinny post

0 (Stokley)

Right flat

5 (Stokley)

Deep In

29 (Decker)

Short curl (left)

8 (Stokley)

Out (left)

0 (Decker)

Out (right)

0 (DT)

Right flat

9 (Moreno)

Right curl

7 (Tamme)

Right curl

5 (Moreno)

Deep post

INT (Decker)

Short middle

15 (Thomas)

Deep cross

31 (Stokley)

Left flat

1 (Dreessen)

Short cross

22 (Tamme)

Left flat

2 (Decker)

Short in

7 (Tamme) TD

- The Broncos faced a lot of cover 2. They exploited a lot of man coverage with route combinations that created some separation. For the most part Manning was patient and took the short stuff underneath. The one time he forced a ball, it was picked. Drives were stalled more due to Broncos mistakes than they were by great Chiefs defensive play.

The Broncos and their ability to run their entire playbook out of 11 personnel caught the Chiefs with 8 in the box on "rushing" downs and exploited it. It cannot be emphasized enough how versatile this personnel grouping is. Manning can run the stretch and zone run plays from them, he can run playaction, you can line up Shotgun/singleback and max protect if necessary, you can move a guy like Dreessen around to help with the edge rush, and you can move the receiver groups around to create favorable matchups.

The saving grace for the Chiefs this half was the fact that their offense controlled the clock and only allowed the Broncos four 1st half possessions and 25 offensive plays. They played the perfect half and got some breaks, yet headed into the locker room down 7-6.

Check back tomorrow Broncos Country when I bring you the 2nd half. What halftime adjustments are made, and what can we expect the Broncos to see in the 2nd upcoming duel?

GO BRONCOS!!!

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