This is the match-up of the season for Denver Broncos fans. With Peyton Freakin’ Manning retired, no more Bill Belichick vs Manning duels. No, I didn’t say Tom Brady because last I checked, quarterbacks don't play across the field from each other.
With this next best, grudge showdown, film breakdown of watching six nauseating games with Brock Osweiler has led this writer (without losing her dinner) to the following conclusions.
Osweiler has a pretty good offensive line, a slew of weapons, and Bill O'Brien mixes them up each game. O’Brien is a good play caller who uses his players effectively; however, the teams who lost to the Houston Texans did so because they either didn't have the talent or the right game plan.
Any problems with Houston's offense begins and ends with BO. RB Lamar Miller is a play maker and game saver. Wide receivers Deandre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Braxton Miller make tremendous catches. TE Fiedorowicz has two touchdowns, so they spread the ball around. These men have made BO look far better than he is.
Osweiler wants to throw it deep. Deep and did I say, deep? With all those attempts you'd think the Texans would have the league's best passing record. They're ranked 30th in passing and 10th in rushing.
He's 41.45% on ALL passes over 11 yards. Out of 122 attempts, he's thrown 66 times over 11 yards. 54% of every pass he attempts, has a 41% chance of success. No wonder he has a QBR of 48.9 and 32nd worst.
What he can do, is throw a mean screen. A team doesn’t get a lot of yardage on a screen if a defender knows they're coming, though. Do you know what Bill Belichick, his Sith Lord self, did? Made him throw screens, short passes and dared him to throw deep. That's the game plan we should use.
The Patriots left two safeties deep, brought every one up, and used LB Jamie Collins as a robber. They gave him rope to hang himself. Which he did. They knew he'd get sick of the screens, the dink and dunk for short yardage and go deep. Or target the area Collins covered. Bad move.
Then they used a four man rush or a blitz to make him uncomfortable because playing like that also stopped the run. He was a steer and they herded him where they wanted him to go.
In Osweiler's mind he's John Elway, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Brett Farve all wrapped in one. That's why he makes dumb mistakes. He takes chances his arm can't deliver. He can throw into wide open windows. Don't cover an open guy and he'll find him. On the times the receiver is covered, 60% of the time he'll miss, but boy, those 4 out of every 10 completions have him polishing the imagined S on his chest.
We have the defense to do exactly what New England did. And Minnesota. If they execute. That starts with stopping Lamar Miller. Alfred Blue isn't much of a threat, so focus on stopping Miller. Sly, Crick, Gotsis, Zaire Anderson or my grandmother better be in there making Miller feel his internal parts pleading for a reprieve.
Send in Wolfe and Miller to harass Osweiler. Channel their inner Mean Machine. Let him throw screens and short little passes with Davis, Marshall, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris to stop them from going far. Even better, pick them off. Trust Talib and CHJ to read Osweiler, he telegraphs every throw, let TJ Ward and Darian Stewart mop up. Even think about using Aqib as the robber, he's got the best hands of the secondary.
Special Teams also needs to keep Texas pinned deep. That was a big key for New England. Their punter was on fiya! I believe he had six punts inside the ten. It forced Osweiler to be patient with the run, to get out of the hole, which of course, never lasted. Not to mention, Osweiler panics. It's what he does. Pressure him, chase him and 9-10 times he'll pick the wrong choice. Game over.
New England held them to a bagel. A big, beautiful, toasted everything bagel with bacon and cream cheese. We need to serve up some of the artery clogging, same.
Based on the status of Trevor Siemian’s health, if he keeps playing like Alex Smith, or the play calling is like Kansas City, pick whichever narrative floats your boat, he's going off on a cart. No one respects our run game, when that happens, there are too many players for our offensive line to fend off. The result? Trainers earning their pay.
Texas is going to play Trevor, like Tampa did. Which means hit him, get in his face and hit him again when he holds the ball too long. We saw in San Diego that another shot to the shoulder will result in no strength to his throws, which brings more defenders up and then the run game gets stalled and repeat.
Siemian and Osweiler have different mindsets, but the results are alike. Take away the run, make them throw deep and they will lose. Unlike Osweiler, Trevor is happy with the screens and short passes, which is exactly why playing him like they did Alex Smith, will work. Just squat 13 yards out like a lizard waiting on a fly.
Give him the five yard passes. Sooner rather than later, one will be dropped or the offensive line will get a flag trying to protect him and then he'll be forced to look deep. That's the time to hit him. I don't care what the Broncos organization says, Siemian is hurt worse than they're saying. That must be why he threw a three foot pass.
Ten days isn't going to be enough healing time if Vince Wolfork falls on him, just once. They'll need a back hoe to dig him out. Not saying Vince can move fast enough to sack Siemian, but he's fast enough to fall on a dog pile. One created by Cushing, McKinney, Clooney or Merciles. Who won't be showing any mercy for our QB.
If Siemian wants to live and keep his job (or blame Kubiak, Ricco, whichever), he's going to need to throw intermediate and deep passes, plus run a few times. Right up the middle. Smith, Brissett, Mariotta, Luck and Ryan all ran and it worked to varying degrees of success. If the run game can't get crucial yards, have the quarterback do it. Anything to get the run going, which helps on the pass.
Jacoby Brissett didn't do anything special. What he got was a front seven with no game film on him, so they weren't sure what formations to use. That allowed New England to run and with Julian Edelman, the slot King, get YAC on the short passes. Occasionally, he'd throw deep and Texas would back up.
The Broncos don't have a slot or a Gronk-like tight end to act like a slot. Tough to get YAC, when linebackers squat on routes. Leave safeties deep, keep linebackers and corners at the ten and bingo, no YAC. They do have Emmanuel Sanders who's quick and can take a hit. If Trevor can get him over the top, could be a nice match-up against whomever is taking over Kevin Johnson’s spot and FS Andre Hall.
If the Texans are smart, they'll let Trevor have the short quick passes as long as the run is stopped. Somebody will drop or his accuracy will be off and drive stalled. Rinse and repeat. This is where our offensive line needs to be bang on like the first three games. IF Okung is able to practice this week, we should see even more improvement than last week. And absolutely an improvement over that Atlanta train wreck with Ty (our lowest graded player on the entire team per PFF),
If Trevor is to do well, he's going to need to come out throwing the ball. Aim for the 11-20 yard area. Plus to the right. His stats in that area aren't stellar. Blame whomever you want, but 4-10 for 27 yards isn't a highlight reel.
If he doesn't start start targeting and hitting over there, teams won't need to use a CB on that side. They'll use him as an extra edge rusher and sack him. Not sure what's going on, but he and E need to work it out.
The offensive line doesn't need to be great to hit Sanders or Demaryius Thomas on an intermediate route. 2.5 seconds is plenty. Split C.J. Anderson and Andy Janovich (or Booker) on each side of Trevor for extra protection/time if needed. And for the love of all that is good use Virgil Green. Once Texas sees he will and can throw beyond ten yards, the Broncos would then be able to run the ball. Dink and dunk works as long as you throw some balls downfield. Look at Brady the last five years.
Keys to game
The Broncos defense needs to stop the run, herd Osweiler into making the passes he loves and only completes 40% of the time. Trevor needs to play BIG like the two drives in the second half against Cincinnati. In those drives, he got rid of the ball quickly and accurately and threw beyond 11 yards. Good things happened when he did. That play will beat Houston.
The offensive line needs to protect the quarterback so they can relax as I don't think Siemian will remain in the game if he gets hit hard. A repeat of last week won’t be allowed under Kubiak.
On a personal note, I hope Brock Osweiler leaves sucking his thumb, holding his blankie and crying for his mama. I don't like that guy, never have.