Film Study: Chiefs Defense v. Broncos, 2nd Half

Peter Aiken

It's gameday Broncos Country----time to wrap up this look back on the first meeting with the Chiefs!

From looking at the tape from the first half in my last post, we learned that the Broncos faced a lot of Cover 2, shot themselves in the foot to end drives, were controlled by the Chiefs offense and their running game as the Broncos O only saw 4 possessions for a total of 25 plays. The Chiefs played about as good a half as you could expect against Manning and Co. yet they still went into halftime down 7-6.

In the second half, the Broncos faced a bit less Cover 2 from the Chiefs and a bit more single safety coverage with a mix of man and zone schemes underneath. The Broncos controlled the ball much more running 38 plays offensively, with a total of 6 drives. In fact, here's the result of each drive: Missed FG, TD, Punt, Punt, Punt, FG. Let's get into the details and analysis of specific plays.

Drive 5

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 3

18 yd pass

(Stokley)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

3 yd run

2-7

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 1

16 yd pass (Decker)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

4 yd run

2-6

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2

2 yd pass

3-4

11, Shotgun-Empty (Tamme, Moreno)

?

Incomplete (Thomas)

4-4

Missed FG 33 yds

- Again exclusively 11 personnel. You'll notice a pattern here of Tamme coming in almost always in passing situations. This drive made it all the way into the redzone before stalling in 3rd and 4, and that's the play I'm going to look at.

Drive #5 Play #1, Incomplete pass to Thomas

Decker is on the bottom with Stokley. Tamme is lined up off of Franklin, Moreno is split wide at the top with Thomas to his right. Both crossing routes are going to be opened up by the other route. Up top, there is a single safety that will be taken with Moreno's vertical. Manning identifies this presnap and looks here the whole way.

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I highlighted the route that Manning misses with the orange arrow, and more importantly the coverage that allows it to be open (red arrow).

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At this point the safety on this side of the field is still about 5 yards off of Stokley and the other guy is being taken with him by Tamme's seam route.

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Manning has already thrown the ball to the left sideline, but we can see that Stokes is all alone in the middle and he has sufficient depth to pick up the first down. If Manning had chosen differently, this would have been a first down inside the 10 yard line.

Kc_54_medium

Thomas has good decent position, but Manning puts the ball too far outside, incomplete. The enraging part of this whole sequence is going to be the subsequent miss of Prater from 33 yards out.

Drive 6

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Quarter, Quarter, Half

Incomplete (Tamme)

2-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

15 yd run

1-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Hillman)

N/A

10 yd run

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 1

Manning 1 yd run

2-9

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

7 yd run

3-2

12, Shotgun-Empty (Tamme, Dreessen)

Cover 1

12 yd pass (Tamme)

1-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 1

30 yd TD (Thomas)

Here, the only difference we see personnel wise is in the 3rd and 2 with a two TE set. The Broncos face a cover 6 look early on and then exclusively a single safety over the top. The play I'm going to look at is the 30-yd TD to Thomas.

Drive 6, Play #2, TD pass to Thomas

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I've highlighted the routes and coverages, Manning sees the single safety up top and knows he will have man coverage to DT's side of the field.

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The safety stays middle and with the leverage of Stokley's defender, I can deduce that the man on Thomas is essentially on an island by himself.

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Finally at this point the safety sees the throw and starts to make his way over to DT. But he's too late.

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The coverage actually is pretty good, but as the picture says, Manning owned the moment and played the ball beautifully over the shoulder. DT makes a great catch emerging from the shadow to sunlight, and this game goes from 9-7 Chiefs to 14-9 Broncos.

Drive 7

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

-2 yd run

2-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2

16 yd pass

(Moreno)

1-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2

Incomplete

(Decker drop)

2-10

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Quarter, Quarter, Half

Incomplete

(Decker)

3-10

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Quarter, Quarter, Half

17 yd pass

(Decker)

1-10

11, Singleback (Tamme, Hillman)

N/A

-2 yd run

2-12

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Hillman)

Cover 1

Incomplete (Thomas)

3-12

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 1

Incomplete

(Tamme)

4-12

Punt

---

---

The Broncos started this drive off pretty deep in their own territory. Decker was the main target, and the Broncos faced more Cover 2 to start off the drive as the Chiefs were protecting their field position. On the last play of the drive, Tamme was the target but had slipped and fell earlier in the route. Manning faced decent pressure all series and had to step up and throw on the run on that 3rd down play. The play I'm going to show is the 17 yd pass to Decker, and I do it to highlight how some teams approach trying to confuse Manning.

Drive 7, Play #3, 17 yd pass to Decker

Kc_71_medium

Presnap, one safety starts all the way along the front 4 (red arrow). The safety back is showing deep middle, which would indicate some man coverage. On the snap however, the box safety retreats all the way back to his half of the field and the guy in the middle scoots over to his right. The Chiefs are masking what looks like QQH coverage.

Kc_72_medium

Kc_73_medium

On this side of the field Decker makes his break and Manning puts the ball on the money.

Drive 8

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2

Incomplete (Stokley)

2-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

2 yd run

3-8

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

? (Game rewind cut this play out in all 22)

Incomplete

(Tamme)

4-8

Punt

---

---

Kc_81_medium

Manning is going to throw to Tamme, who is running in in/out pivot. He'll have sufficient depth at the marker, but the ball isn't placed well. It looks like Stokley has a lot of separation underneath, but windows close quickly and it's debatable whether or not his defender could track him down and make the tackle before he got the first.

Kc_82_medium

Kc_83_medium

Kc_84_medium

Incomplete...

Drive 9

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

13, Jumbo (Green, Dreessen, Tamme)

Cover 1

Incomplete (Thomas)

2-10

11, Shotgun (Dreessen, Moreno)

Cover 2

Incomplete

(Dreessen drop)

3-10

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 2

Incomplete

(Stokley)

4-10

Punt

---

---

We get the jumbo package to start off with because the Broncos are pinned inside their own 5. On this play, there is off coverage on DT and the single safety is on the other side of the field. Manning checks into a quick WR screen to DT, but he sails the ball a bit too high. On the very next play, Dreessen drops a nice 8-9 yard gain which leaves the Broncos in a 3rd and long. This is the play to look at in this drive.

Kc_91_medium

Kc_92_medium

A trend that I saw throughout was that the safety on DT's side of the field usually attacked that route. The Chiefs bracketed him the most out of any other receiver, and on this play, it SHOULD have yielded a big one for the Broncos. As we can see the safety is eyeing DT, and since the safety on the otherside has jumped that route, it leaves Stokely wide open on the post.

Kc_93_medium

He has good separation but the ball is thrown too far ahead of him. Looking from the QB's POV, we see why. The Chiefs defender has pushed Beadles back into Manning's face, and he isn't able to step into his throw for an accurate delivery.

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With the safeties being where they are, if Manning gets Stokes the ball, he's off to the races.

Drive 10

Down/Distance

Personnel

Coverage

Result

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

5 yd run

2-5

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

17 yd run

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

1 yd run

2-9

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

6 yd run

3-3

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno)

Cover 1

10 yd pass (Thomas)

1-10

11, Singleback (Tamme, Moreno)

N/A

2 yd run

2-8

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Hillman)

N/A

1 yd run

3-7

11, Shotgun (Tamme, Moreno

Cover 2

27 yd pass (Thomas)

1-10

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

3 yd run

2-7

11, Singleback (Dreessen, Moreno)

N/A

-3 yd run

3-10

12, Singleback (Dreessen, Tamme)

N/A

-1 yd run

4-11

Prater 34 yd FG

---

---

This was the best drive of the game. At the start of this drive, the Broncos were up 14-9 with about 6-minutes left. I know, I know, with the craptacular Chiefs offense, a 5 point lead seems like fifty, but they were only down one score. The Broncos grinded out the clock all the way down to about 16 seconds before kicking the final FG, and they did it almost exclusively on the ground. Two great plays I'll look at----the first is a great piece of running by Knowshon, the other was the connection to Thomas that sealed the game.

Knowshon, good vision

Kc_101_medium

Kc_102_medium

Here the LB is crashing the hole, Knowshon makes a stutter step (which makes the LB commit), then cuts sharply to the backside

Kc_103_medium

He has open daylight to a 17-yard gain.

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There's been a few things about Knowshon that have impressed me since his return---his decisiveness in hitting the hole, his vision in recognizing the best route, and his protection of the ball in traffic. Moving on to the play that sealed the game. Bottom line, the Broncos don't convert here, they have to punt giving the Chiefs the ball with 2 minutes and change. And this seems like a blown coverage to me.

Kc_111_medium

The Chiefs are giving the two deep safety look, but the man here on the bottom has inside leverage, and his eyes in the backfield.

Kc_112_medium

I really don't know what the hell he's thinking----he reacts late and the ball is out.

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It is beautifully placed over the coverage and down the field for a 1st down. Again, I don't know what the corner was thinking. Even if you have safety help deep----you CANNOT allow DT that big a cushion.

Wrapping it up

Here is a final chart mapping out Manning's throws in the 2nd half:

Route

Gain

Deep cross

18 (Stokley)

Deep out

16 (Decker)

Short dig

2 (Dreessen)

Short out

0 (Thomas)

Vertical

0 (Tamme)

Short cross

12 (Tamme)

Vertical

30 (Thomas) TD

Short cross

16 (Moreno)

Left flat

0 (Decker)

Left curl

0 (Decker)

Deep Out

17 (Decker)

Vertical

0 (Thomas)

In/Out pivot

0 (Tamme)

Short cross

0 (Stokley)

Right flat

0 (Tamme)

Left flat

0 (Thomas)

In/Out pivot

0 (Dreessen)

Deep Out/Post

0 (Stokley)

Short cross

10 (Thomas)

Vertical

27 (Thomas)

Putting all the info together, here's is how the Broncos attacked the Chief secondary:

Short left

Short middle

Short right

8

5

4

Intermediate left

Intermediate middle

Intermediate right

4

3

3

Deep left

Deep middle

Deep right

4

6

1

They attacked the short and medium areas of the field pretty evenly---but the left flat saw a lot more action. Deep, the Broncos combated the Cover 2 looks with a lot of deep stuff in the middle, opened up by verticals on the outside to draw the safeties attention. One place they avoided was the deep right portion.

What do Expect

- The Chiefs played it conservatively to take away big plays. They trusted their men to cover underneath and gave them some help. They also bracketed DT quite a bit with a safety so I look for the Broncos to exploit it this time around.

- Don't expect too much of a different approach, the Chiefs were pretty successful keeping the game within a score throughout....even if the Broncos helped out a bit with a lot of miscues.

Broncos 38, Chiefs 6

GO BRONCOS!!!

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