Peyton Manning 55 - Part 2

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Happy New Years Broncos Country! Pour some coffee, fry up some bacon, and bunker down for part 2 of this series. Today we will be looking at touchdown passes 12-22 which will begin where we left off in the Raiders game and take us through the Jaguars.

Nomenclature

For my own purposes I label the receivers accordingly:

X = Demaryius Thomas

Y = The TE (usually Julius Thomas) When there is more than one TE, every TE will be marked as "Y"

A = Wes Welker

Z = Eric Decker

RB = whoever the back is

If there is a substitution (say Bubba Caldwell), he will be labeled according to the player he is replacing. Remember, I'm keeping it uniform so the information is simple to understand. As far as breaking down the distribution, I will count the TE whether he is inline or split wide. For example 1x3 (X)-(Y)(A)(Z). would hold true if Julius Thomas was next to Orlando Franklin or split wide, doesn't matter. Just like reading a book we read the formation from left to right from Peyton Manning's point of view.

I'm also going to identify the coverage in the secondary as well as the route or concept that was used.

Read It

TD #12 - 13 Yards Julius Thomas - 2x3 (RB)(Y)-(A)(Z)(X) - Cover 1 - Pick (slant/out)

We have a couple of concepts at play here. The one at the bottom of the screen where we have a trio of WR's is designed to clear the field for Demaryius Thomas to run a short crossing route over the middle. Welker runs a vertical, Decker an out, and with the off man coverage from DT's defender leaves the crosser wide open for a first down on 3rd and 4. But on the other side we have a much more favorable and intriguing situation.

The man lined up across from Julius (Y) is showing very funky inside leverage. Why is this funky? Because the OLB behind him is lined up to the inside. If he were covering Julius he would be closer to center or even with slight outside leverage knowing there was some help to the inside. This alerts Peyton that he will be blitzing. Now with the blitz that leaves the OLB lined up deep and to the inside to cover Julius. Moreno on the outside is going to run a quick slant bringing his man with him and clearing that side of the field for Julius' out to the flat. The OLB has no shot at preventing the reception, is too slow to keep with Julius, and finally takes a bad angle.

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TD #13 - 7 Yards Wes Welker - 1x3 (Y)-(A)(X)(A) - Man - Pick (corner/flat)

Here we have a bunch formation to the right. It is man coverage with Decker's man playing off. DT's man is showing press man, and the corner across from Welker (A) is going to blitz leaving the safety with this responsibility. This is terrible call by the defense with what the Broncos are showing. You are essentially leaving Welker uncovered. If he has an option route, do you ever see him engaging that defender over the middle? Of course not, he's going to go where there is space.

Remember by NFL rules, receivers are allowed to block within one yard of the LOS. This is what Demaryius is going to do. He is going to drive his man then feign a route by squatting short. In reality he is just clearing things out for Welker to hit the flat. Decker's assignment is easy. Corner fade which brings the off corner with him, leaving the flat completely wide open for Wes.

I have no idea why teams insist on blitzing a corner against the Broncos. I cannot recall an instance in which they got there. Could have happened, but I don't remember. What I remember most of the time is that tactic leaving a safety deep against Julius Thomas. Here it ensures that the safety cannot come over and make the play on Wes.

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TD #14 - 1 Yard Demaryius Thomas - 3x1 (Y)(Y)(Y)-(X) - Man - Corner Fade

If you ever see this formation and defensive alignment expect to see the corner fade. The Broncos are using heavy personnel with 3-TE's. Originally I believe you had a 1x3 alignment and there was a shift to bring two of the TE's back to the left side. All Peyton has to see are 10 men in the box with Demaryius Thomas singled up. He will take DT one on one any day of the week.

The DB actually has good leverage slight to the outside. Demaryius is just quicker off the snap and stronger in the upper body. He uses his left hand to gain a bit of separation. Finally, Manning drops the ball into a spot as if he were using a 64 degree wedge near the green. That sucker comes straight down over the top, beautiful touch.

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TD #15 - 15 Yards Demaryius Thomas - 3x1 (X)(Z)(A)-(Y) - Zone - WR Screen

Trips formation to the right. There are two defenders way off the LOS with a LB closer. The LB is going to blitz essentially leaving a 3 on 2 in favor of the Broncos. Chris Clark gets the key block sealing off the DB closest to the action, Welker gets a key block down the field close to the goalline, and Decker seals off the final man giving Demaryius an easy path to the endzone. I love watching these screens develop.

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TD #16 - 4 Yards Wes Welker - 2x1 (Z)(Y)-(X) - Zone/Man - Flats

We see a new wrinkle from the Bronco offense. Wes Welker is lined up in the backfield to the right of Manning along side Hillman who is on the left. This concept is flats. Both players in the backfield will run a flat pattern to their respective sides. The Eagles are playing a combination of zone and man coverage. To the left of the formation, Decker is lined up wide and then brought close and stacked behind Julius. He will run a drag route to the middle. The linebacker to that side will chip him before getting into a zone in the flat. If you look at the initial alignment, the Eagles are really cognizant of Julius Thomas and their goal here is to end up bracketing him inside and out. This bracket also helps double cover both Julius Thomas and Eric Decker. Julius will run to the corner but he is well covered. Hillman actually is wide open as well, Manning could easily have dropped the ball over the linebacker, but he looks towards Wes Welker right away.

On this side of the formation Demaryius will run straight to clear out the flat. The corner to the right of the end is who is matched up with Welker, and he makes one mistake--he squares up. He is dead meat when he does this because Welker busts out of the backfield like a bat out of hell and quickly works into his break to the flat. Welker's own effort is what gains him separation. Welker probably runs the hardest of all the Broncos receivers right from the snap.

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TD #17 - 4 Yards Julius Thomas - 2x2 (Z)(Y)-(A)(X) - Shuffle Pass

The coverage here doesn't matter, even though it is man on the outside. The fact that there are 6 men in the box does. Peyton audibled into this play after recognizing the light box. Including Moreno, the Broncos would have 6 blockers on 6 defenders. But the design of the play is going to neutralize one of the rushers without having to devote a blocker to him. RT Franklin is going to crash down on the Guard in a tandem block with Louis Vasquez, which will leave the DE unblocked. Doesn't matter. At the snap Julius comes across the formation as Manning shuffles a few steps to his right, and as soon as the end gets there BOOM, pitched to Thomas. Also at the snap Beadles pulls around and both he and Moreno are able to seal off Sean Lee. The Franklin/Vasquez tandem block works beautifully even when Franklin gets a hook on the LB on the "2nd level". Julius Thomas has a clear path to the endzone, great design and execution.

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TD #18 - 2 Yards Eric Decker - 3x1 (X)(A)(Y)-(Z) - Corner Fade

Man coverage, same concept as the Thomas corner fade except Manning makes it a back shoulder throw. On the other side of the play, looks like Welker has an option route and eventually works his way outside. Demaryius runs a quick slant and probably has a touchdown as well, but Manning looks towards Decker all the way. Knowshon makes a great blitz pickup on the LB and puts him on his ass. Decker shows great technique from the snap with a quick jab step that sets up his break to the corner. He keeps his head on a swivel and puts himself in great position to make a play on the ball.

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TD #19 - 9 Yards Julius Thomas - 3x1 (Z)(X)(A)-(Y) - Cover 2 - Slant

Cover 2 man under with off coverage on the outside. Decker runs a corner fade, Demaryius and Welker run short curls, and the money man Julius Thomas runs a quick slant. He hesitates for a brief moment before making the step into the slant and with the off coverage it gives him just enough room to turn upfield and run. The safety is late getting over. Welker's defender tries to bait Manning by showing a blitz presnap before jumping back into coverage. Quick throw and an example of just what a weapon Julius is. When you have a man that size that can work the slant route against a safety, game over.

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TD #20 - 2 Yards Wes Welker - 2x2 (X)(Y)(Z)-(A) - Man - Whip

You see this concept all the time. I see a lot of TE's run this route, I see Darren Sproles of the Saints run the route near the goalline, it's money. A whip route can be inside-out or outside-in. The receiver will start one way, then pivot back the other direction. The change of direction is instantaneous and creates separation. With quick speedy guys like Wes, corners have no shot at staying with it. With larger guys like TE's, it gives them leverage with their large frames even if they don't gain that separation a fast speedy guy might.

Wes is stacked behind Decker and will go outside-in. With the frequency the Wes runs those flat routes, it is a perfect concept to take advantage of that tendency. Wes even has to wait a split second for the pass to get there but his break is so fantastic he has plenty of space.

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TD #21 - 2 Yards Julius Thomas - 1x2 (Y)-(Y)(Y) - None - Playaction/Decoy

The Broncos go big with a 23 personnel. Mitch Unrein plays fullback here along with Knowshon in an offset I formation. Dreessen is tight left and Virgil Green and Julius Thomas are tight right with JT on the outside. The Jaguars are going to blitz the backside which is a good tactic as a safeguard against the bootleg. I think I remember Peyton Manning bootlegging maybe once in his two years here so it really isn't a concern in this case.

Regardless, the flow of the play gets everyone moving to the right. Manning fakes it to Moreno who cuts back to the middle. Julius Thomas is going to chip the inside shoulder of the rushing linebacker before blowing past him around the edge to the back of the endzone. Mitch Unrein misses the linebacker and Peyton lets it go early before getting creamed by the blindside rusher.

The linebackers that flowed playside as it developed lost track of Knowshon Moreno behind the massive wall of beef. You can see in each frame how their eyes are still in the backfield trying to decipher what is going on there. When the remaining backer to the outside catches a flash of Thomas rushing past him, it is far too late.

I call this a decoy concept because I would put it into the same category of plays when a TE or T eligable fakes a cut block or goes to the ground to escape attention only to pop back up and run free and clear because the defense lost track of him. Julius played the role of blocker first and foremost and continued the story that the personnel, alignment, and fake had painted.

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TD #22 - 20 Wes Welker - 1x3 (Y)-(Z)(A)(X) - Cover 2 Zone - Fake WR Screen

Remember the play that got all the attention the past couple of days because it may have been a lateral thus negating 7 of Peyton Manning's passing yards on Sunday? Well this is it. Decker originally comes in motion from the left. At the snap Peyton Manning fakes the short swing pass to Decker. this occupies all the DB's to that side. Demaryius blows by on a go route, Welker's man flows toward Decker who has continued to run parallel to the LOS. Welker gives his man a check and turns upfield on a go. The Jags are in cover 2 so there is a safety on the backend. He is frozen by the pump fake and gets moving a bit late. When he does, the angle is poor and Welker plows into the endzone. Demaryius Thomas was wide open as well. Peyton went with the easier throw and trusted Welker to make a play in space.

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Raw Data

TD

Down

P

Formation

Alignment

Play

Coverage

Route/Concept

12

3-4

11

Shotgun

2x3 (RB)(Y)-(A)(Z)(X)

13 yd (Y)

Cover 1

Pick (Slant/Out)

13

3-2

11

Shotgun

1x3 (Y)-(A)(X)(Z)

7 yd (A)

Man

Pick (Corner/Flat)

14

1-G

13

Unbalanced Left

3x1 (Y)(Y)(Y)-(X)

1 yd (X)

Man

Corner Fade

15

2-10

11

Pistol

3x1 (X)(Z)(A)-(Y)

15 yd (X)

Zone

WR Screen

16

2-G

11

Shotgun

2x1 (Z)(Y)-(X)

4 yd (A)

Zone/Man

Flats

17

1-G

11

Shotgun

2x2 (Z)(Y)-(A)(X)

4 yd (Y)

N/A

Shuffle Pass

18

1-G

11

Singleback

3x1 (X)(A)(Y)-(Z)

2 yd (Z)

Man

Corner Fade

19

2-G

11

Singleback

3x1 (Z)(X)(A)-(Y)

9 yd (Y)

Cover 2

Slant

20

3-G

11

Shotgun

2x2 (X)(Y)-(Z)(A)

2 yd (A)

Man

Whip

21

3-G

23

Offset I

1x2 (Y)-(Y)(Y)

3 yd (Y)

None

Decoy/Playaction

22

1-10

11

Singleback

1x3 (Y)-(Z)(A)(X)

20 yd (X)

Cover 2 Zone

Fake WR Screen

Wrap-Up

We saw a bit of a shift especially against Dallas from combo routes to more of a one on one matchup approach near the goalline. More fades, the Whip route by Welker, the Slant by JT, or the shuffle pass. We saw some more deception in that regard and even some varied personnel and usage of them. This was a pretty exciting stretch of touchdown passes to analyze, can't wait to see what the next batch has to offer. Hope you enjoyed it folks, #23-33 are coming soon.

GO BRONCOS!!!

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