Peyton Manning 55 - Part 3

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Hello once again Broncos Country! This 3rd installment is going to look at touchdown passes 23-33. Most everyone should be familiar with my nomenclature and methods by now, but if you have questions about anything feel free to ask or refer back to one of my previous articles.

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TD #23 - 17 Yards Eric Decker - 2x2 (X)(Y)-(Z)(A) - Cover 2 - Smash

Smash concept is meant to put pressure on the flat defender when a defense is in cover 2. Normally the outside receiver will run a hitch or square in, but here Welker is going to run to the flat. Decker however is going to stem his route a bit inside before attacking the corner of the endzone. (H/T to Smart Football for explanation of the smash concept)

When you see things like Cover 2, just know it isn't one size fits all. Cover 2 itself is just a shell where both safeties are responsible for half of the field deep. You can have Cover 2 man under where the underneath defenders are playing man coverage, you can have Cover 2 zone, Tampa 2 where the Mike linebacker will take deep responsibilities in the middle of the field, you can also have a combination of coverages underneath which is what we see here. On the left side of the formation they have press man on Demaryius while they have a straight up zone to Decker/Welker's side. Decker has good position but the safety also slips and falls down leaving him wide open.

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TD #24 - 12 Yards Julius Thomas - 1x3 (X)-(Y)(A)(Z) - Cover 2 - Seam/Dig

This almost looks like a levels concept to me except they are going to stretch that Mike LB high to low with a seam and dig route rather than an in/squre in behind it. The idea is the same. If the OLB is not going to cover man to man, most Cover 2 schemes will use their Mike LB in some sort of zone. Julius is going to pull him vertically which should leave Welker clear over the middle. Welker's man has great coverage and is behind by just a smidgeon on the break to the inside. Once the ILB passes Julius to the next level, he is wide open and has great position of the safety who lined up in outside leverage with regards to Julius. Manning's throw is poor and too far to the outside, but Julius channels his basketball days and catches the pass as if he were breaking down key for a dunk. Nice play by Julius.

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TD #25 - 31 Yards Demaryius Thomas - 3x1 (X)(A)(Y)-(Z) - Cover 2 - Post/Out

There are a couple of different ways this play can beat Cover 2 man under. First, the design of the post outside clears out the flat and gives Welker free ground in the flat on an out. His man also has outside leverage so that is pretty close to a slam dunk. Next, the fact that Julius Thomas is in play keeps the safety over the top to that side looking for him since the underneath LB has zone coverage within 10 yards of the LOS. You could almost classify the coverage on Julius as an over/under bracket.

Anyway, Demaryius blows by his man who hesitates knowing he has help over the top. The safety gets his eyes locked on Julius and gets too flat footed. By the time he realizes it, Demaryius has already split them and Manning throws the ball right on time. I'm pretty sure Manning takes this shot regardless of how the safety reacts. He trusts DT quite a bit with his size and athleticism.

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TD #26 - 6 Yards Wes Welker - 2x3 (X)(A)-(Y)(Z)(RB) - Cover 2 Man - Pick

Back in the redzone, back to those pick combinations with Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker. Cover 2 man underneath. Demaryius will drive inside on the snap bringing his man with him and cutting off Welker's man in the process. Welker runs to the flat and has a clear path to the endzone. Broncos went empty here flexing Montee Ball out wide right.

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TD #27 - 1 Yard Joel Dreessen - 1x3 (RB)-(Y)(Y)(Y) - Busted - Pick

This is the 2nd time we have seen this heavy personnel on a goalline touchdown pass. Lots of shifting. Originally wing left with a power I formation, Knowshon gets flexed out to the left, and Joel Dreessen gets brought from left to right, still slightly behind the LOS. Then Peyton shifts them again and from there Virgil comes left to right and Tamme splits out to give us a trio of TE's to the right.

Remember, in the NFL you're allowed to block within one yard of the LOS on passing plays. Inexplicably, Ryan Kerrigan rushes leaving a 3 on 2 in favor of the Broncos. Both Tamme and Green block their men creating a pick for Dreessen who runs to the flat. About as easy as it gets.

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TD #28 - 35 Yards Knowshon Moreno - 1x3 (Z)-(Y)(X)(A) - Middle Screen

Redskins flash Cover 2 but the playside safety and corner switch responsibilities. The safety ends up chasing Decker on the crosser. The three receivers to the right are going to basically run down the field and occupy the defenders to that side of the field. Welker is pretty important because he gets down so fast it drives the backside safety even further down the field nearly taking him out of the play. When all that action is done and over with, there are two defenders left playside to defend the middle screen, the corner and the Will.

The Will takes a bad angle and trips himself out of the play. Both Manny Ramirez and Zane Beadles make it down field with Ramirez getting a great block on the corner. This springs Knowshon and one good cut later he ends up in the endzone.

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TD #29 - 35 Yards Demaryius Thomas - 3x1 (X)(Z)(Y)-(A) - WR Screen

You can almost guarantee the Broncos will run a WR screen whenever they have at least 2 receivers to a side against off coverage. What makes this play even more successful is the corner blitz off the playside edge. It puts the linebacker out of position and up against a downfield block by Clark. Four key blocks spring this, all by Decker, Welker, Clark, and Beadles.

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TD #30 - 74 Yards Julius Thomas - 2x2 (X)(A)-(Y)(Z)-Robber - China

China concept is a term coined by Chris over at smartfootball. He describes it as the Smash concept with a role reversal. The inside receiver will run to the flat while the outside receiver will run the corner route. Ideally the outside man will stem his route to the inside in order to get the safety to give up space and leverage to the corner. Here Decker is a bit lazy with that part of it but it doesn't matter since he essentially ends up double covered anyway. Julius Thomas chips the edge rusher before getting into his route and Manti Teo is late to get over and cover. Once Julius has a head of steam no one can stop him. Decker holds the block on Eric Weddle long enough to give Julius just enough space.

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TD #31 - 11 Yards Demaryius Thomas - 3x2 (Z)(Y)(A)-(X)(RB)- Cover 0 - China

Chargers are going to blitz 6 leaving man coverage across the board. This is too damn close to the China concept pedantics aside. Demaryius is slot right with Montee Ball outside of him. He runs a go route and Demaryius pushes upfield a couple yards before breaking to the flat. His route running has improved so much in the past couple of years. You wouldn't expect a man his size to be able to cut with such great and agility but he does. Montee runs a vertical to the endzone clearing things out, and a special effort gets the ball past the goalline. The concept is pretty much mirrored to the opposite side.

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TD #32 - 7 Yards Demaryius Thomas - 2x2 (A)(Y)-(Z)(X)- Cover 2 - Whip

We have a repeat of one of my favorite redzone routes--the whip. Remember receiver either runs an in or out and then pivots back to the opposite site. It is hard for defenders to stay with quick guys, it is hard for them to keep leverage on big guys. Here our quick guy Wes Welker runs one on the left, Demaryius Thomas runs one on the right. Both run the whip outside/in. Demaryius is the target and Peyton looks there the whole way. Coincidentally, the playside safety bites hard on the playaction and Decker is also wide open on the post.

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TD #33 - 34 Yards Demaryius Thomas - 3x1 (X)(Z)(A)-(Y)- Cover 1 - WR Screen

I've done this enough now that when I see several defenders with pretty off coverage, there's a good shot I'm going to see a blitz of some sort. Sometimes it tips the hand of the defense playing Cover 0 (6 or 7 man blitz), but we know by now. Peyton sees that and there's almost always going to be a WR screen (perhaps curls if they are spread out).

New wrinkle, from the pistol, Demaryius starts from the backfield just like Washington would lineup with one of their TE's. He's motioned out wide and followed by Eric Weddle. The corner with inside leverage tight to the line on Wes Welker is going to blitz. From there you have two DB's with off coverage, a single high safety to the other side of the field, and an out of position Weddle. Two initial blocks by Wes and Decker spring Demaryius to the 2nd level, and a missed tackle coupled with another couple of great blocks by Chris Clark and Zane Beadles springs him to the endzone.

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Raw Data

TD

Down

P

Formation

Alignment

Play

Coverage

Route/Concept

23

1-10

11

Shotgun

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

17 yd (Z)

Cover 2

Smash

24

3-6

11

Shotgun

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

12 yd (Y)

Cover 2

Seam/Dig

25

2-10

11

Shotgun

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

31 yd (X)

Cover 2

Post/Out

26

1-G

11

Shotgun

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

6 yd (A)

Cover 2

Pick

27

4-G

23

Singleback

1x3 (RB)-(Y)(Y)(Y)

1 yd (Y)

Busted

Pick

28

1-10

11

Shotgun

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

35 yd (RB)

---

Middle Screen

29

2-20

11

Pistol

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

35 yd (X)

---

WR Screen

30

1-10

11

Shotgun

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

74 yd (Y)

Robber

China

31

1-5

11

Shotgun

3x2 (Z)(Y)(A)-(X)(RB)

11 yd (X)

Cover 0

China

32

1-G

11

Singleback

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

7 yd (X)

Cover 2

Whip

33

2-10

11

Pistol

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

34 yd (X)

Cover 1

WR Screen

Wrap-up

Demaryius Thomas was the star of this stretch catching five out of the eleven. He showed his versatility running a lot of different concepts from different spots on the field. We have seen him beat coverage for deep balls down field, work the middle from the slot, work the flats from the slot, take screen after screen to the house, and use his body and frame on whip routes and fades to win the matchup. Demaryius is by far the Broncos most valuable wide receiver.

That's it for now folks, I'll bring you the next 11 in the next few days.

GO BRONCOS!!!

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