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Film Study: Broncos goal-line pass concepts

Hello MHR, let's take a closer look at how the Broncos approach creating favorable match-ups in the passing game near the goal-line!

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This post was inspired in large part due to the awesome TD pass play to Joel Dreessen against the Bengals. There was a lot of shifting and movement presnap and the confusion left him wide open in the back of the endzone for an easy TD.

So when I began to look back throughout the season at different scenarios where the Broncos have passed the ball in that area, I noticed several things:

1) They have thrown several quick bubble screens to Eric Decker.

2) They have thrown the fade route to both Thomas and Decker.

3) They use two route combos to cross defenders and get a receiver (usually a TE) wide open.

4) They use quick double move patterns with Decker and Thomas to get separation.

I think that the first two concepts are easy enough to understand and see in real time. What is a little more deceptive are the last two concepts I spoke of and that is what we will be taking a look at here---let's get into it!

Route Combinations

Starting with the Cincy play I mentioned...Broncos line up in jumbo package (Chris Clark, Virgil Green, Jacob Tamme, Joel Dreessen) with McGahee and Tamme in the backfield lined up in "I" formation. Tony Clark and Virgil Green are wing left.



This is just speculation. I think a run play is called to the strongside. But if you look at the matchups there, the Bengals essentially have a 6-5 hat on hat advantage. Count the four defenders at the line to the left of Koppen and the two defenders in the secondary.


Manning sees it and motions Green out to the left.


He then relays info to McGahee Tamme and Dreessen. Tamme and Dreessen split out wide right and Peyton moves to shotgun.



Now, what you are going to see is Tamme and Dreessen criss crossing their routes which catches the corner out of position. The safety (I think) is also out of position and Dreessen heads to the back of the endzone.



Wide open, TD!


The crossing combo or "rub route" is used extensively in this offense and not just in goal-line situations...continuing this theme, let's take a few more looks at it in motion.

This next one is against Pittsburgh. Broncos are in 12 personnel (Shotgun) with Thomas and Tamme (I think) split left and Dreessen lined up off RT and Decker split up top.


Something to take note of, I noticed with this combo that the guy closest to the line is the one to break inside. The reason being he brings his man with him and causes traffic for the other defender. Check it out:



Notice that Thomas causes a huge separation for Tamme and that's all she wrote, TD!


For the final look at this concept, we go back to the NE game. Broncos are in their jumbo package this time with Gronk and McGahee in the backfield. Chris Clark starts to the right but Peyton moves him to the left outside of Clady.


Now, whenever Gronk is in, it's a run play right? Wrong...playaction, Peyton rolls out to his right.

Jd_gl_td_ne_2_medium Jd_gl_td_ne_3_medium

This time the "rub" comes from Dreessen on the right and Gronk out of the backfield. Similar concept in that the defender is forced to chose between taking Gronk in the flat or staying with Dreessen.



Similar result, wide open, TD!


Seeing that both this play and the Bengals play was a check from Manning who is keenly aware of defensive alignments and potential favorable matchups, it is safe to say that Manning also knew both times that the defender/defenders would have to read the route and diagnose it simultaneously. A defense is in trouble when it has to read and react rather than just react. Those decisions take split seconds and that little bit is all Manning needs in order to exploit it.

Double Moves

Again, the idea behind them here, both Decker and Thomas are physical receivers capable of pulling them off. When they do, they gain more separation and therefore a very enticing window for Manning to throw to. Here's one with Decker. Broncos are in shotgun 11 personnel with Decker and Stokley to the left and Dreessen/Thomas to the right.


Decker is at the top of the screen and he is going to run a pivot route. If you saw my film study on the Saints, you'll recognize the concept from Darren Sproles. What is going to happen here is that Decker will run to the outside like a short corner route.



At this point, he plants and pivots back underneath to the inside giving himself great separation from his defender.



The ball is already out to precisely the spot it needs to be, TD!


Finally, it's time for #88 to get in on the action. The Broncos are in 11 personnel, single back with Stokley and Decker split up top and DT down here at the bottom. He is going to run a straight line to the corner like it is a fade route.




Except he plants abruptly and heads back toward the goal-line on a short comeback route.


Again, he has position, and with his size and separation a big window for Manning to hit, TD!


Again Broncos Country, why our offense is so dangerous in the Redzone and more specifically in goal to go situations, we can give a lot of looks with a lot of different personnel groupings. In the end though, it boils down to simple concepts like I have outlined here consistently beating the competition for points. Both "rub routes" and double moves seek to give the receiver an advantage of separation through increased confusion. Remember "All warfare is based on deception...."

Keep a look out for these concepts and plays as the season progresses. Hope you enjoyed it, if you have any questions let me know---GO BRONCOS!!!

Late Addition

So someone asked about the Manning INT and I got a snip of the moment pretty well, I'll include it here and offer my thoughts as well:


- First, off the snap the linebacker #58 (red arrow) eyes Stokley coming over the middle from the slot, which leaves McGahee wide open (circle).

- Decker is jammed from press coverage really well off the line by Clements which throws the timing off a bit.

- Next, Manning lets the ball go real early and puts a lot of mustard on it. It is so high and outside that Clements has to stretch for it even though he has much better position on it than Decker.

So who's to blame?

- IMO Manning for not seeing press coverage, Manning for making a poor throw. If you see press coverage on what will be a timing route, that guy probably should be your first look.