2012 Denver Broncos Season Review: Covering the TE Part 4

Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE

After a hectic couple of weeks of Free Agency, here is the final installment in this four part series

If you are new to this series, be sure to go back and look at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Basically, I've gone back through every regular season game in 2012 and looked at the film each time a TE was targeted. Linebacker play was a hot button topic all throughout the season, and part of the reason for doing these posts was to identify potential issues there. In the end, there is a body of work that can be useful to everyone.

If you are unsure how to read the tables it is simple. I identify the TE targeted, the Broncos defender in coverage, how that defender was covering man or zone (but remember this only indicative of what that individual player was doing--not the coverage scheme at large), the result of the play, and a detailed analysis after watching each play multiple times. Without further explanation, here are the last four games of the 2012 regular season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

L. Stocker

V. Miller

(Zone)

2-1

11 yd rec

Playaction, the TE originally engages in a block, but releases and works his way from right to left of the formation. Von Miller on that side does not recognize him coming across and lets him release free to the flat. Wide open.

D. Clark

M. Adams

(Man)

1-10

11 yd TD

Clark begins his route diagonally toward the middle of the field but breaks out toward the corner (double move). Adams over commits to the initial look and is out of position on the double move.

L. Stocker

DJ Williams

(Man)

2-9

8 yd rec

Stocker fires off and pushes DJ upfield, he then quickly cuts to the outside. DJ was a little outmuscled from the initial contact.

D. Clark

DJ Williams

(Man)

2-13

Incomplete

This isn't Freeman's initial read, he works his way back across the formation and fires a bit too late. Clark is open initially on a quick 5 yard out but DJ undercuts the route and deflects the ball.

D. Clark

D. Trevathan

(Zone)

1-10

Incomplete

Danny drops back to the intermediate middle in zone coverage. Dallas Clark chips the rusher and releases into the right flat. Danny is late to recognize it and Clark is open, but Doom's rush causes an errant throw.

D. Clark

D. Trevathan

(Man)

1-10

1 yd rec

Clark runs an in/out pivot route short over the middle and is wide open. A strong rush up the middle causes hesitation and Freeman throws a weak pass off his back foot. Could have been worse than it was.

D. Clark

D. Trevathan

(Man)

3-17

9 yd rec

Clark goes in motion which gets Danny moving the wrong way presnap. Clark runs a quick route to the left flat. He has room to run, Danny recovers and forces him out of bounds.

Baltimore Ravens

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

D. Pitta

M. Adams

(Man)

3-10

9 yd rec

Adams actually has good tight coverage as he runs a comeback route. Von Miller puts a wicked spin move and flushes Flacco to his right. Flacco puts the ball high and outside and Pitta snags the ball.

D. Pitta

M. Adams

(Man)

3-8

Incomplete

Pitta goes in motion and Adams mirrors him. Adams turns his hips parallel with the boundary (outside leverage) and Pitta runs a deep post. Not sure why but Adams hesitates and is slow giving up a step. Flacco puts the ball too high or this is a big gain.

D. Pitta

Zone

2-18

Incomplete

Pitta starts in the backfield to the right of Flacco. He hesitates momentarily then chips Von Miller on his release. The Broncos are playing off man and the short flat route is there. Pitta drops the ball. Woodyard originally retreats and Harris takes the slot guy initially and passes him off once he realizes where the ball is going. Deep zones looks like.

D. Pitta

D. Trevathan

(Man)

1-10

2 yd rec

Pitta runs a short out to the right flat and Danny tracks it down and forces him out of bounds after a short gain.

D. Pitta

R. Moore

(Man)

1-10

9 yd rec

Rahim is pretty deep, and it is clear from the defensive formation that Pitta is his man and there is no one else short to help out. Pitta runs a 10 yard dig. Moore recognizes the play and stops him as soon as he makes the catch.

D. Pitta

M. Adams

(Man)

3-10

10 yd rec

Broncos are in their Dime defense. Pitta is on the left in the slot, Rice is also on that side next to Flacco in shotgun. To begin Leonard is lined up right across from Pitta, but from the snap, Leonard stays put. Looks as if his assignment is the flat. Adams is about 5 yards off LOS in outside leverage. Pitta runs a short crosser from the get go and is never checked at the line. That along with Adams' alignment signals wide open.

D. Pitta

W. Woodyard

(Zone)

3-4

Incomplete

Woodyard drops shallow but instantly recognizes Pittas route to the flat. He breaks on the ball and deflects it incomplete.

D. Pitta

Zone

2-8

2 yd rec

Another example of soft zone coverage. Von Miller has the intermediate portion to the right boundary. Carter has the deeper portion. Pitta chips and releases to the short area. Scheme reception.

D. Pitta

M. Adams/

W.Woodyard

Busted

2-25

31 yd TD

Both safeties are pretty deep. Adams retreats originally to his right where there are two Ravens receivers. Pitta bursts up the seam and Adams quickly recovers and moves back over toward the middle. Too late though, he's out of position and Flacco puts the ball high for a leaping Pitta. Nice throw over the LB in zone. If Adams retreats toward the right from the beginning, that tells me Woodyard needs to get deeper in his zone as he is the only one in the middle.

D. Pitta

V. Miller

(Zone)

1-10

61 yd TD

Von Miller has terrible recognition skills. This play also tells me he doesn't understand the coverage behind him. To me, if you're going to be playing zone, you have to know what is going on around you so you can properly know when and who you should follow/pass off. Anyway, he originally gets caught up with the outside receiver who breaks slightly inside. There are two guys behind him though and he doesn't have to do this. This leaves Pitta open in the flat. No big deal, should only be an 8 yard gain. Except Tony Carter puts his head down when trying to make the tackle and whiffs, then Jim Leonard misses on a spin move. Finally Rahim Moore dives and misses TD. Just a bad play all around.

Cleveland Browns

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

B. Watson

Busted

1-10

13 yd rec

Playaction, Watson releases cleanly off the line, Brooking moves initially on playaction then retreats to a medium zone. Watson gets behind him and Adams has to make a break on the play from centerfield.

B. Watson

J. Leonard

(Man)

3-7

19 yd rec

Watson releases over the middle on a deep cross. Leonard initially comes up and jams him but the contact creates a lot of separation as it affects the smaller Leonard more.

B. Watson

M. Adams

(Man)

2-7

Incomplete

Adams steps up and squares ready to go inside or outside. Watson cuts inside and has good separation. The ball is late and underthrown incomplete.

B. Watson

M. Adams

(Man)

3-3

Incomplete

There is a cluster formation and Adams gets picked by his own defender. Watson is open on the shallow crosser but drops a high pass.

B. Watson

M. Adams

(Zone)

2-5

Incomplete

Watson cuts up the seam on a skinny post and Adams recognizes it and has good position. The ball is overthrown.

B. Watson

M. Adams

(Zone)

1-10

Incomplete

Watson settles between two defenders in zone over the middle. Adams sees it and breaks on the ball nearly intercepting it.

B. Watson

Busted

2-10

Incomplete

The slot receiver comes over the middle and Woodyard follows. Problem is so does Trevathan and Watson sneaks over the middle and is wide open. Bad throw in the dirt. Either Woodyard or Trevathan messed up the coverage, that shallow crosser shouldn't be doubled.

B. Watson

R. Moore

(zone)

1-10

Incomplete

Woodyard allows Watson to release behind him. Moore sees the play and breaks but the pass is about 5 yards behind the receiver. Colt McCoy sucks lol.

B. Watson

R. Moore

M. Adams (zone)

3-10

Incomplete

Watson runs an intermediate in. Adams has outside leverage. Moore is about 20 yards on the other side of the field and diagnoses the play quickly. He breaks on the ball and makes a great play almost intercepting it.

Kansas City Chiefs

TE

Coverage

Down

Result

Analysis

T. Moeaki

K. Brooking

Busted

1-10

16 yd rec

Brooking bites up expecting the run, leaves Moeaki free down the seam

T. Moeaki

DJ Williams

(Man)

3-7

Incomplete

Moeaki runs a double move short out/go towards endzone. DJ backpedals and doesn't bite on the initial move. He tracks Moeaki and has great coverage

T. Moeaki

Busted

1-10

5 yd rec

The Chiefs receiver shoots over the middle and picks off a Broncos LB. This clears the short cross over the middle. This really was a pick play that should have been penalized

T. Moeaki

S. Johnson

(Zone)

2-5

Incomplete

Moeaki runs right to left in a shallow cross. Johnson anticipates and takes a good angle. Would have this wrapped up for a minimal gain but Moeaki drops the ball.

You might have noticed that I didn't include commentary on each game like in the past. Here are the final tallies and some extensive analysis to go along with it.

Position Group

Targets

REC

YDS

TD/INT

AVG/T

Raw %

Adj/C

Adj/I

+/-

Adj %

Linebackers

--

---

---

---

---

---

Woodyard

19

10

115

2/2

6.1

52.6%

+5

-2

+3

36.8%

Mays

5

2

26

1/0

5.2

40.0%

+1

-1

0

40.0%

Brooking

3

2

18

0/0

6.0

67%

+1

0

+1

33.0%

Miller

6

6

117

2/0

19.5

100%

0

0

0

100%

Trevathan

11

7

78

0/0

7.1

63.6%

+1

-2

-1

72.7%

Williams

4

2

15

0/0

7.5

50.0%

0

0

0

50.0%

Johnson

1

0

0

0/0

0.0

0.0%

0

0

0

0.0%

Totals

49

29

369

5/2

7.5

59.2

+8

-5

+3

53.1%

Corners

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

Carter

4

3

42

0/0

10.5

75.0%

+2

-1

+1

50.0%

Porter

2

0

0

0/0

0.0

0.0%

0

0

0

0.0%

Harris

9

4

37

0/0

4.1

44.4%

+4

-1

+3

11.1%

Bailey

1

0

0

0/1

0.0

0.0%

0

0

0

0.0%

Totals

16

7

79

0/1

4.9

43.7

+6

-2

+4

18.7%

Safeties

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

---

Adams

29

18

201

3/0

6.2

62.1%

+5

-6

-1

56.7

Moore

9

6

61

3/0

6.8

67%

+1

-1

0

67%

Leonard

3

1

19

0/1

6.3

33.3%

0

0

0

33.3%

Bruton

1

1

9

0/0

9.0

100%

+1

0

+1

0.0%

Totals

42

26

290

6/1

6.9

61.9%

+7

-7

0

61.9%

Linemen

---

---

---

---

---

---

Dumervil

1

1

52

0/0

52.0

100%

0

0

0

100.0%

Ayers

1

0

0

0/0

0.0

0.0%

0

0

0

0.0%

Totals

2

1

52

0/0

26.0

50.0%

0

0

0

50.0%

2012 Broncos

109

63

790

11/6

7.2

57.7%

+21

-14

+7

51.4%

Most of the categories should make sense, the only thing that might be an issue Adj/C, Adj/I, +/-, Adj %. Not all completions and incompletions are the same. For example, perhaps the coverage was perfect and it was just a great individual effort by the TE, maybe the scheme called for soft coverage. Those things shouldn't be blamed on the defender. Conversely, what if the coverage sucked and the throw was bad or the TE dropped the ball? The defender shouldn't get kudos because the offense screwed up. Here's how it breaks down:

Adj/C: For a completion where the coverage was good, and the result of the play was of no fault to the defender, they get a +1

Adj/I: For an incompletion where the coverage was bad, and the result of the play was due to an offensive mistake, they get a -1

+/-: The aggregate of both is applied to the Adj % number. For example, if the defender had 10 completions total, but a +2 score, their overall completion to target ratio would decrease because the adjusted number would be 8....not 10.

This is just an attempt to be fair and precise with the analysis. Now let's get into it.

Position Groups

Let's softly dismiss Linemen and Corners from this discussion. More often than not, covering a TE is not going to be their assignment. In fact they total 18 of the 109 total targets this past season.

Moving on to Linebackers and Safeties, both had very similar numbers. S gave up an average of 6.9 yards per target, LB an average of 7.5 yards per target. Usually a safety will take on a TE from an off position (whether in zone or man) so this suggests to be that there wasn't a whole lot of YAC. For the linebackers, the opposite can be said. Both were pretty close in allowing the opposing team to convert the target about 60% of the time. When we get to adjusted numbers however, the linebackers had better overall coverage and were victimized more often by quick little outlet passes that had nothing to do with their coverage abilities. Both gave up almost the same amount of TD's, both extracted about the same amount of turnovers.

Individual Players

Again let's throw out corners and linemen. Linemen are rarely asked to drop into coverage and this isn't there forte anyway. I really don't want a Broncos lineman covering anyone. It is a mismatch. As far as corners, it is an opposite issue. Corners win this battle most of the time. But when they are targeted, it usually is when the coverage scheme is some form of zone. Corners may not be as big as TE, but they are faster and can neutralize the size advantage with their closing and leaping abilities.

Linebackers:

Lets throw out Mays and Brooking for the moment. None of us wants to see either in coverage (and the team doesn't either based upon how little it happened). Besides we do not know if these guys are going to be back at all.

Von Miller absolutely stinks in coverage. He is by far the one with the worst results here. My feeling with Von is that he was asked to play zone so much and didn't know what the responsibilities were around him. Zone players are successful because they diagnose quickly and understand where to go. Von seemed like he stuck to the letter of the law too much. For example, there were times when he would initially ID his man, float to his side and then release him to the flat....except the flat was clear because the two defenders on his side had other responsibilities. Von has got to get in the playbook and understand what is going on around him. There is a certain field awareness on the backend that he has yet to develop. And rather than just dismiss it because he does everything else so well, I say Von is far too athletic and gifted to not develop his coverage skills. In man coverage, Von is super aggressive anyway which means he can overplay and get beat on double moves and subtle tricks.

Wesley Woodyard shows the most promise in zone coverage. He plays his space well, recognizes and diagnoses the routes in his areas, and has shown the athletic ability to make great plays to defend passes. He seems most comfortable in zone and I would make that a point of emphasis in the offseason. When you're playing nickel with two LB's, you usually will have one work the middle in zone while the other does something similar or mans up on the TE.

Danny Trevathan took some bumps, but I like what I see overall. He almost always gets a jam off the LOS, and he uses handplacement to "feel" where the receiver is going. The other thing I see from him which I don't necessarily get with Von or Woody is his closing speed. He has the ability to close the advantage a receiver might have gained to make a good play on the ball.

Safeties

For similar reasons lets throw out Bruton and Leonard. Just not targeted a lot (not a lot of snaps) and they have shown to be pretty good in their roles. I would not mind seeing Leonard back as the Dime safety next year.

I've hammered down on Mike Adams in coverage consistently all offseason. He actually improved a bit in coverage over the last several games of the season. With him though, actually with both he and Rahim, they just seem a bit slow to recognize the route coming towards them. Something about both safeties worries me in coverage and I think that is precisely what it is. The other thing is consistency. Both can look fantastic at times, but in only shows up in flashes. Both are proven liabilities when it comes to coverage and something has to give. There is no mistake why Mike Adams was targeted 10 times more than any other defender. Rahim Moore for his part played a lot of centerfield and that in and of itself is troublesome as he allowed the same amount of TD's as Mike Adams did with 20 fewer targets. His TD% per target sits at 33% and Adams sits at 10.3%. Combined they allow a TD on 15.7% of their targets which is the highest among position groups on the team.

Hope you enjoyed the series everyone, if you learned anything from it hope it's the following:

-Von Miller has a lot of work to do

-We have solid LB coverage guys in Woodyard and Trevathan that compliment each other nicely

-Our safety play HAS to improve

What are your thoughts?

GO BRONCOS!!!

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

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,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

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.vc97ec6e

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