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Denver Broncos Film Study: Evaluating Brock Osweiler

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Taking a look back at each of Brock Osweiler's drop backs from his game against the Seahawks, what did he do well and what did he struggle with?

Dustin Bradford

A quarterback is judged upon a lot of factors.  Paramount is whether or not the player moved the offense and put points on the board.  To that end, Brock was successful engineering two TD drives and putting the team in position to kick a field goal.

This early in his career though, I want to see that Brock has cleaned up his mechanics, improved his footwork, throws with accuracy, makes good decisions, and can read a defense well enough to exploit it.  Let's start off with some general observations about his mechanics.

Delivery

Brock's delivery looks to be slightly improved from when he entered the league as a rookie.  He still boasts a follow through that comes more from a 3/4 angle than an over the top follow through we might see from Peyton Manning. This is his natural throwing motion and it does not seem to hinder or cause issues at the moment.  Not a single one of his passes was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Brock also faced quite a bit of pressure on Thursday but not once was his release responsible for fumble in the pocket nor did his manner of carrying it cause an issue when he was scrambling.  I think the 3/4 follow through is here to stay and that is fine because this is how he throws.

People might bring up the fact that Tim Tebow was given a hard time about his elongated throwing motion but that was for good reason.  It caused him to drop the ball leaving him open to being stripped in the pocket, and it caused him to be late with his throws.  While Brock's delivery might still be a bit funky, it also does not hinder his release as the ball comes out quick.

With footwork, I want to break things down into the varied drops a quarterback might take.  I am not an expert when it comes to drops but I know when a quarterback is consistent in setting up a good foundation to throw.  Does the quarterback pop up after his final step with a set foundation ready to transfer his energy from his back leg through the hips with enough torque to be accurate?  What I don't want to see is Brock making a lot of throws off his backfoot.  To this end, I have identified some of the drops he has taken from the very short 2 step out of the shotgun (think of a QB taking a step then setting the foundation then releasing the throw), to the longer 7 step drops under center and from playaction.

Short Drops (2 and 3 step)

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This is a simple swing pass out in the flat.  Brock threw a lot of these in college so it is a route and throw he is comfortable with.  3-step drop out of the shotgun his movement is precise, he sets a good base and transfers his energy from the back leg through his release. The ball placement is slightly behind the receiver but is still a pretty accurate through.  Everything is done correctly here.  In fact this is probably his 2nd option as his eyes work the middle of the field before snapping over.

These little rhythm throws are important because they show a young quarterback can be ontime with his progression.  One of the throws that showcases this more than anything is the quick slant.  This variation as Norwood sell the flat route before breaking back inside--great job by him.

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We see this play a lot in the Manning offense.  Playaction to what is essentially a 2-step drop.  Think of it as a 3-step drop with the first motion to the running back counting as that first step.  After that initial motion to the running back, Brock has two steps to set his foundation and deliver an accurate ball.  The pass is right on target giving the receiver an opportunity for some YAC.

Here we see it again.  3-steps, good foundation, and an absolute rocket past the drifting linebacker.  These short throws are showcasing Brock's good ball placement and the subsequent YAC possibilities.

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Oz_6_yd_to_norwood_sea_pre_medium

Again nice form here on the hitch to Norwood.  Something I want to point out here is that even if this is Brock's 1st read, which I'm not sure if it is, he still keeps his head dead center before snapping it to his target on the final step of his drop.  He pops from the third step with a solid foundation and delivers a decisive and accurate short throw.

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Something that I'll get to in more detail later--Brock seems to be progressing quite well when it comes to reading defenses.  Here he identifies the blitz and knows that Morrah will have position to the inside of the corner who is sitting in a zone.  Both linebackers end up vacating the area, one to blitz one to cover the flat.  It leaves Brock with a favorable matchup to the TE down the seam and once again he is precise in his footwork and on time with his throw.

The only play where Brock looked less confident with his drop and throw on one of these short rhythm passes was when his intended receiver fell down on a short out route.   There is a slight hesitation after the hitch in his drop.

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We know he has good footwork as evidenced by his rhythm from snap to release, we know he sets a good foundation as evidenced by accurate throws, and we know he looks more comfortable in the rhythm passing game, but what about longer developing plays?

Medium and Deep Drops (5 and 7 with playaction)

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7-step drop.  Looks good coming out of the playaction, sets his foundation and throws, but he hangs the ball a bit. The placement is good, it is to the outside shoulder but Cody Latimer has to slow down (could see this clearly on the replay angle).  The safety is late coming over so if Brock intended this to be some sort of a back shoulder throw it was ill-advised.  We have a good drop, good foundation, good placement, but too much height and not enough distance.  This is one of the negative trends I see from Brock Osweiler when it comes to his deep ball.

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Here's a 5-step drop with playaction mixed in.  Everything is picture perfect--especially the throw which splits bracket coverage on Bennie Fowler who is running a skinny post. The ball is placed just over the linebacker and ahead of the receiver giving him ample opportunity to catch and run.  Everything is well executed except for the catch which was bumbled and dropped by Fowler.

Remember when I spoke about Brock hanging the ball on some of his deeper throws? This is an instance where it should have worked.  The route is a comeback/go double move that the corner doesn't bite on.  Instead of placing the ball ahead of the receiver where the corner had position, Brock floats it to the outside shoulder.  Problem is the ball is so high that Greg Hardin loses it in the lights

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Could have been a nice deep play down the field:

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Up until now though we have some incompletions, Brock's form has held up.  His footwork, foundation, and release have all worked in conjunction to create a nice flow from snap to throw.  Ever notice when Peyton Manning gets happy feet?  It usually happens when he goes through his progression and nobody is open initially.  I saw that on one occasion from Oz Thursday and it came on his biggest mistake of the night.

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He gets to the top of his drop, the blitz pickup buys slightly more time, but Brock reads the field from right to left before keying on Gerrell Robinson who is running a flag route from his inline position.  Problem is Brock forgets about the corner playing zone (#32) and eye balls Gerrell allowing the corner to read him and get into position.  to compound the issue, Brock throws the ball late and puts too much air under it.

So what was the issue?  No one was open, Brock was a bit late in his progression, he failed to see the defender, and he made a poor throw.  Does this mean that Oz has an issue looking off defenders and recognizing a defense? No, and that brings me to the next portion of my evaluation.

Doing pro-level things

When I saw this live my face lit up and I was beaming with pride.  It was like watching a kid grow up and have success.  Down near the goalline, the Broncos offense is spread trips right in 11 personnel.  Oz sees the light box count and audibles into the run, even doing the "Peyton Thing" and pointing to the exact spot where he wanted Kapri Bibbs to stand.  It was like watching a mini-Manning out there and it got our offense the score.

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It's one thing to diagnose a light box count and change from a pass to a run, it's another completely to recognize the defense presnap, hold the single high safety to his place on the field, then snap back and throw to your one-on-one matchup to the other side.  This shows some serious progress, even though the result was an incompletion.

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Going off-script

We have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, perhaps the best when it comes to putting the offense in situations where it can play to a script.  When things go wrong the execution of the offense becomes something foreign and mistake-prone.  Manning is not going to scramble and create plays with his legs.  Not his game.  Brock Osweiler for his size moves quite well.  His big frame has allowed him to break some tackles in the backfield.  Most importantly, he has not left himself open for big hits like other larger mobile quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger comes to mind).

Something that has somehow made it into the commentary about his performance on Thursday is the idea that he holds onto the ball too long causing some of the pressures he's faced.  So far the predominant quality Brock has exhibited has been the ability to go through a drop, read the progression, and get the ball off on time.  His scrambles show us the issue had more to do with bad protection rather than the inability to make a read or the habit of holding the ball too long.

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On a 5-step drop, the 3-tech blows by RG Vinston Painter and is to the quarterback at the 2.4 second mark.  To give you a point of reference, most coverage sacks occur at 3.0 seconds or later.  Brock has barely had time to make his drop before being taken down.

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Here Oz feels the backside pressure after Chris Clark is beaten off the edge.  The pressure on this 3-step drop got there at about the 2.2 second mark.  The only issue I have with him scrambling on this instance is that he could have just stepped up into the pocket and hit Fowler on a his short dig.  You see Peyton Manning do this quite often with edge pressure.  Montgomery and Painter provided a nice block on the interior of the line, and he had adequate space to stand and deliver.

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Winston Justice is beat to the to the inside on this 3-step drop and Brock does a good job of sidestepping and scrambling for a positive gain with the other end (57) in hot pursuit. The time to pressure on this play was about 2.3 seconds.

Do you get the idea?  The pressure is getting there before Osweiler has had the opportunity to make his drop.  The next play is no different.  Pressure gets there again at 2.3 seconds at the top of Brock's drop.  He turns the play into a 17-yard gain.

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During the broadcast John Lynch made the point that Brock needed to keep his eyes downfield as he scrambled. The curious thing is that he said it on this play when Osweiler avoids pressure and hits Bennie Fowler in the hands who subsequently drops it.

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This is the problem with bad commentary.  Isolated instances become trends.  On the interception Brock threw, the point of emphasis was how long he held onto the ball.  Now instead of making lemonade out of lemons, Brock is a one-read quarterback that holds onto the ball too long creating his own pressure.  Well, that's what facts are for.

Brock Osweiler's Time to Throw

Pass

Drop

Time

Throw on Time?

Target

Route

Result

1

3

2.4

Yes

RB Anderson

Swing

3 yd

2

2

1.9

Yes

WR Norwood

Slant

11 yd

3

3

2.2

N/A (rush)

---

---

Scramble 1yd

4

5

2.4

Yes

WR Palmer

Go

INC

5

3

2.3

Yes

WR Norwood

Hitch

6 yd

6

7

3.4

Yes

WR Latimer

Go

INC (drop)

7

5

7.2

No (rush)

WR Fowler

Broken

INC (drop)

8

5

2.4

N/A (Sack)

---

---

Sack

9

5

4.5

No

TE Robinson

Flag

INT

10

3

2.3

N/A (rush)

---

---

Scramble 4 yd

11

2

2.3

Yes

TE Morrah

Out

INC  (fall)

12

2

1.9

Yes

TE Morrah

Seam

14 yd

13

5

2.2

Yes

WR Fowler

S. Post

INC (drop)

14

3

2.3

Yes

WR Fowler

Slant

17 yd

15

7

3.1

Yes

WR Hardin

Go

INC

16

3

2.3

N/A (rush)

---

---

Scramble 15 yd

17

3

2.6

Yes

WR Norwood

Seam

34 yd TD

On all dropbacks that didn't turn into a scramble (every pass except 3, 7, 8, 10, and 16) Brock's time from snap to throw was 2.6 seconds.  As a point of reference, Peyton Manning's was a league best 2.36 seconds last season. Brock's time to throw of 2.6 seconds would have placed him 7th in the NFL behind Manning, Dalton, Henne, Brady, Palmer, and Stafford.  He would have ranked higher than Roethlisberger, Ryan, Rivers, and Brees.

Play of the Game

We saw what Brock did under pressure with his legs.  This is the play where he puts it all together and executes with his arm.  From recognizing man-coverage on Norwood, to standing in against the pressure and delivering a beautiful ball over the top, if you've understood nothing else, understand that this is an elite-level play from a young quarterback.

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Wrap-Up

There were a lot of positives to take away from Brock Osweiler's extended playing time against Seattle.  He showed refined mechanics, good footwork, the ability to diagnose a defense presnap, the ability to make quick, accurate throws, and the ability to make plays when the pocket in front of him broke down.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, he was inaccurate with his deep ball-letting the pass hang in the air too long. He also made the mistake of eyeing the receiver on his interception.  He can also learn to step up in the pocket more rather than resort to scrambling at the first sign of a rush.

Overall he has made good progress.

GO BRONCOS!!!