2012 Denver Broncos Season Review: Covering the TE Part 2

Dustin Bradford

This is the 2nd in a five part series analyzing the Broncos success/failues in covering TE's throughout the season. Here's a link to Part 1

The reason for going back and doing this is to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the Broncos secondary when it comes to defending TE's as well as to identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual position groups and players. This is not a normal film study in the way of including lots of screen shots. Rather I include detailed analysis of every targeted throw to a TE by the opposing team.

I give you the targeted TE, the person(s) in coverage and their specific responsibility in that play, the result of the play, and a blow by blow of what exactly happened. At the end of it, I'll include all the data for you to see.

Game 5 New England Patriots

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

R. Gronkowski

J. Mays

(zone)

1-10

12 yd rec

Very interesting. Gronk lines up in the backfield. Before the snap Mike Adams rotates from a two deep look to the center of the field which indicates man on the right hand of the formation with the two receivers. Brady send Gronk out to that side off tackle. Joe Mays who is lined up in the middle still plays a zone and fails to realize what just happened. Gronk is wide open in the flat and Mike Adams comes up to make the tackle after Porter whiffed. Adams tipped the defense presnap, Brady exploited it, Mays didn't adjust.

R. Gronkowski

M. Adams

(Man)

1-10

0 yd rec

Here it seems the Broncos disguised their coverage. They are playing a combination of zone and man. Gronk is off RT with two other receivers split to his side. They try to run the same rub route combo as last time with the WR's clearing out the flat. Adams starts to cheat presnap and rushes full blast to take Gronk down. Very good play, if this wasn't his assignment to begin, it was very good diagnoses.

R. Gronkowski

W. Woodyard

(Man)

2-10

Incomplete

Similar theme, the Pats line Gronk on the side with two WR's. There are only two men to that side to cover, and Woodyard is confused. He takes a step forward and quickly realizes that Gronk is streaking wide open, he gives chase. Should be a big gain but Brady overshoots his mark.

R. Gronkowski

None

(Busted)

1-15

13 yd rec

Broncos show blitz with Cover 2 man under. Only four rush, unfortunately the guys that drop back are on the left side of the formation and Gronk is on the right. He ends up being the hot read and turns a 3-yard pass into a 13 yard gain. I suppose you could blame Joe Mays if you wanted to, but this is poor design overall by JDR.

D. Fells

J. Mays

(Zone)

2-14

Incomplete

The Pats run playaction to the right, bringing Fells back across the formation to the left. All the linebackers bite on the run action and Joe Mays identifies the pattern late and trails Fells. Dropped ball

R. Gronkowski

J. Mays

(Man)

2-8

10 yd rec

Gronk lined up to the rightside with two other receivers. He and Welker run 3 yard outs. Mays recognizes from the snap, but to be honest no one is defensing that quick throw.

It was a very common theme for the Pats to line Gronk up in some form of trips pattern to use the WR's to open some things up. J. Mays on Gronk is a mismatch everyday of the week. Hernandez being hurt really limited the things I was able to see from the Pats scheme wise, but their overall gameplan with the TE was to overload a side and make the defenders choose. This was probably the most sloppy game I've seen with miscommunication and busted coverages as of yet. Some big transitions after this one. Tracy Porter and Joe Mays are no longer in the starting lineup.

Game 6 San Diego Chargers

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

A. Gates

C. Harris

(Zone)

3-11

Incomplete

Gates is lined up trips left. He stays in for a moment at the snap and chips Von Miller off the line (an instance of Von rushing from the RDE spot). The other two CB's to that side are playing zone at the boundary. Harris comes off his man to Gates up the seam, the pass is high and incomplete. Good recognition by Harris as Gates released into his route late.

A. Gates

W. Woodyard

(Man)

2-6

Incomplete

Gates is actually lined up in the slot to the left. Woodyard squares up to him a bit presnap. Gates runs an out/go double move but Woodyard stays with him. Good coverage.

A. Gates

M. Adams

(Man)

2-6

15 yd TD

Gates gives a good shoulder fake on a post/corner route. Adams bites on the post and is cooked.

A. Gates

M. Adams

(Man)

1-10

23 yd rec

Adams steps up briefly at snap against heavy look, recognizes Gates very quickly running down the seam towards him, squares up, gets his hips pointing the wrong way when Gates gives a shoulder fake to the outside and gets beat on a deep cross. The double move strikes again.

A. Gates

M. Adams

(Man)

1-10

12 yd rec

Double move yet again, this time a short in/out pivot over the middle. Adams is frustrated at this point, gets an unnecessary roughness penalty after the play.

A. Gates

Harris/Leonhard

(Zone/Bracket)

1-10

INT

Harris trails Gates and passes him off to Leonard. Rivers still makes the throw into double coverage and it is intercepted by Leonard, very nice play by both. Appears to be Cover 6 (quarter quarter half) with the bracket being outside and inside over the top.

R. McMichael

Harris

(Zone)

2-6

2-yd gain

McMichael comes in motion back to Rivers' right in shotgun. He waits in the backfield and releases to the right flat when there is no rush. Harris gets a little too deep in his zone and leaves the flat wide open. Still, Harris comes in and makes a great stop for 2 yards. Great play.

A. Gates

R. Moore

(Zone)

1-10

11 yd TD

Man across the board with a single safety help to the right side (opposite of Gates). Technically Leonard gives up the TD, but it is Moore's fault and this is why. Leonard is lined up 6 yards off Gates in outside leverage (Gates is in the slot). Up top, the corner has inside leverage meaning he is using the sideline for help---he knows there is a single safety high and doesn't intend on giving up the inside of the field. Moore needs to understand first that Leonard is protecting the possible corner route, not the inside of the field. Moore floats toward the corner's side, when his butt should stay in the middle to protect the post.

R. McMichael

M. Adams

(Man)

3-8

5 yd rec

McMichael is the middle man in the trips to the right formation. The outside route runs a go, inconsequential. The inside route runs an in/out pivot---this makes the Bronco defender back into Mike Adams' line and after a slight hesitation McMichael runs the short cross. It is essentially a pick route that isn't flagged. Adams does a good job tracking the play down and causing a fumble.

D. Rosario

R. Moore

(Man)

2-8

Incomplete

Double move does it again. Rosario gives a shoulder fake to the outside and runs the post. Moore hesitates just enough. Should be a TD but Rivers air mails the ball 10 yards behind the receiver.

A. Gates

D. Trevathan

(Man)

1-10

13 yd rec

The rook overcommits to the inside route, Gates runs the patented in/out double that gives so many LB's (not just Broncos LB's) issues. You need guys that can swivel their hips on a dime to defense it---some corners can but again you're not usually gonna get this matchup.

We saw some things in this game, J. Leonard stepped in for Adams after Adams got torched and lost his composure. Adams still played, but the three safety look was used much more. Trevathan saw some more playing time (actually happened previous week against the Pats) and looked like, well, a rookie. I think it is safe to say at this point that our safeties and LB's are very susceptible to double moves.

Game 7 New Orleans Saints

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

J. Graham

D. Trevathan

(Man)

3-3

Incomplete

Trevathan plays outside leverage and backpedals down the field. Graham has some separation as the route turns into a cross, but Trevathan closes quickly and deflects the ball incomplete. Nice play.

J. Graham

None

(Busted)

1-10

13 yd rec

Designed screen all the way. Graham even pushes Von inside before he releases.

J. Graham

D. Trevathan

(Man)

2-13

18 yd rec

Trevathan manages to get a quick jam, but it doesn't phase Graham---amazing how much bigger than Danny he is. Graham runs the post and has a step, Danny still almost closes on the ball for a close no deflection. This is what I've been waiting to see from the LB's closing speed.

J. Graham

D. Trevathan/

W. Woodyard

(Man, Zone)

4-2

INT

Trevathan absolutely mugs Graham off the LOS. Again, doesn't slow him down, he is heading down the seam with more than a step on Trevathan, Woodyard who is sitting in a medium zone, just goes up and makes a fantastic INT to bail him out.

J. Graham

W. Woodyard

(Zone)

2-5

-6 yd rec

On this play Graham comes in motion back to the right off RT. From here it looks almost exactly like the last screen pass except W. Woodyard flies up the field to blow the play up 6 yards behind the LOS.

J. Graham

C. Harris

(Zone)

1-10

Incomplete

Harris tracks the post on his side, Graham runs a post from the other end. Harris lets his man pass and keys on Graham. Should be at least a first down but Graham drops the pass.

J. Graham

W. Woodyard

(Zone)

2-4

Incomplete

Short out (3 yards). Again no LB is going to stop this especially from this position. The ball is a bit behind and is dropped.

J. Graham

D. Trevathan

(Man)

2-10

20 yd rec

Danny gets a jam but is out strong-armed by Graham. Plenty of separation-Danny just gets beat.

J. Graham

M. Adams

(Man)

1-10

Incomplete

Adams has pretty good coverage down the seam and has Moore over the top. Brees still tries to force into double coverage but it is too high for Graham.

J. Graham

M. Adams

(Man)

1-10

18 yd TD

To be honest, this is in garbage time and Mike Adams flat out isn't running very hard. Easy TD down the seam.

Some good and bad here, this is probably the first game where a secondary miscommunication didn't occur like it had before. Trevathan was tasked for the most part with Jimmy Graham to decent results. He attempted to jam Graham off the line everytime, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. He showed good closing speed to negate any initial advantage. Wesley Woodyard is showing me he is best used in zone coverage. Made big plays in both. Just diagnoses and reacts to the play very quickly.

Game 8 Cincinnati Bengals

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

J. Gresham

D. Trevathan

(Man)

2-10

15 yd rec

Trevathan has bad leverage from the start (inside) on a medium out by Gresham.

J. Gresham

W. Woodyard

(Man)

1-10

Incomplete

Gresham drives his route pushing Woodyard deep before coming back to the ball on a curl. Drops the pass.

J. Gresham

V. Miller

(Zone)

1-10

10 yd rec

Von takes a step toward the flat then floats back the opposite direction leaving Graham wide open. Terrible recognition, Von is it in that area and had another LB in the middle, don't know why he moves back that way.

J. Gresham

W. Woodyard

(Zone)

2-5

8 yd rec

Chalk this up to another short route (5 yard curl) against intermediate zone coverage.

J. Gresham

J. Leonard

(Man)

3-6

Incomplete

Short out, the throw is inaccurate due to pressure, but he's lucky it is. Leonard is looking to undercut the route for at the very least a possible deflection.

J. Gresham

E. Dumervil

(Zone)

2-8

52 yd rec

Ok, weird look here. Doom is standing up like an OLB with Von, Unrein and someone else with their hands in the dirt. Doom drops back into coverage, the other two LB's rush on a blitz. Pressure gets Dalton to roll to his left. Gresham is coming over the middle. Inexplicably Doom vacates his zone to chase down Dalton. Gresham is wide open. Very bad decision by Doom.

J. Gresham

M. Adams

(Man)

2-3

14 yd rec

Adams has very good coverage on a square out. Dalton throws it up high and outside and Gresham snags it with one hand.

J. Gresham

M. Adams

(Man)

2-10

9 yd rec

Gresham creates separation by a stutter step at the beginning. When Gresham makes the cut to the outside, Adams seems fooled like he was expecting a stutter/go down the seam.

The out killed our coverage this game. Overall lots of different guys had a shot covering Gresham which tells me the Bengals did a good job moving him around to find matchups. The single most boneheaded play in the game was Doom's brain fart leaving his zone to rush the QB. Can't do that, wasn't aware of his surroundings, like a bull saw red and charged.

Now for a final look at the overall numbers per position group and individual:

Position Group

Targets

Receptions

Targets/Zone

Targets/Man

Rec/Zone

Rec/Man

Linebackers

--

---

---

---

---

---

Woodyard

7

2

4

3

2

0

Mays

3

2

2

1

1

1

Brooking

0

---

---

---

---

---

Miller

1

1

1

0

1

0

Trevathan

6

4

0

6

0`

4

Totals (G 1-4)

11

7-86 2TD

4

7

3 (TD)

4

Totals (G 5-8)

17

9-65

7

10

4

5

Totals (G 1-8)

28

16-151 2TD

11

17

7

9

Corners

---

---

---

---

---

---

Carter

0

---

---

---

---

---

Porter

0

---

---

---

---

---

Harris

4

1

4

0

1

0

Totals (G 1-4)

3

0

0

3

0

0

Totals (G 5-8)

4

1-2

4

0

1

0

Totals (G 1-8)

7

1-2

4

3

1

0

Safeties

---

---

---

---

---

---

Adams

9

8

0

9

0

8

Moore

2

1

1

1

1

0

Leonard

3

1

2

1

1

0

Totals (G 1-4)

12

7-83

7

5

4

3

Totals (G 5-8)

14

10-107 3TD/1INT

3

11

2

8

Totals (G 1-8)

26

17-190 3TD/1INT

10

16

6

11

Linemen

---

---

---

---

---

---

Dumervil

1

1

1

0

1

0

Totals (G 1-4)

1

0

1

0

0

0

Totals (G 5-8)

1

1

1

0

1

0

Totals (G 1-8)

2

1-52

2

0

1

0

Team (G 1-8)

63

35-395 5TD/1INT

27

36

15

20

- Take a look at Chris Harris numbers, notice he has 4 targets all in zone. A reader asked this today about CB's covering the TE and part of my explanation of why it doesn't happen was because CB's are more valuable covering WR's due to WR's having greater speed. Unless a team has nobodies at WR and their TE is spectacular, you're probably going to see most of the targets in some sort of zone assignment.

- There was improvement from the linebackers even though they gave up more receptions in this quarter season. Their average per reception dropped by about 4 yards. You started to see less of Von Miller in coverage (still poor play on his only target), no Joe Mays at all, more Woodyard in zone, and more of the rookie Trevathan who made some good plays and novice mistakes.

- The safeties and more specifically Mike Adams regressed. In fact his poor play directly correlated to more dime looks and more overall snaps from Jim Leonard. Not all of it is his fault, sometimes guys just made good plays. But he is the most victimized player in coverage thus far in the season and it isn't even close.

- The Saints game was the turning point in the secondary, they really pulled it together as a whole.

- Gronk, Gates, Graham, and Gresham is a murderers row of TE's. All are huge with freakish athleticism. I cannot overstate how much quarterbacks just threw the ball high and outside of even good coverage and these guys went up and caught the ball. Can't defend that.

Thanks for reading MHR, we'll see you for part 3 in the series!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker