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Tale of the tape: Denver Broncos preseason game 1

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Today we break down film on some of the key plays from Thursday’s win over the Chicago Bears

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to what I hope is the first of many breakdowns of Broncos’ wins. This is my first crack at a series I hope to continue weekly throughout the season where we look at the film from the previous game together and breakdown a few big plays.

The preseason will be a little rocky since NFL GamePass doesn’t provide the All-22 coaches footage until regular season play. So I’ll be working with the broadcast footage for now.

Before we begin, I realize, especially with a game like Thursday’s, that it’s not possible to cover every big play that happened. But I will do my best to get a broad range of various plays, and some that are conducive to breaking down (I’m not going to breakdown a punt block because I have no clue what’s going on!).

Would love to hear your thoughts on plays that should be broken down each week. Hit me up on Twitter or in the comments somewhere (I’m usually lurking on most threads) after a game with your suggestions.

With that, let’s dive into Denver’s 22-0 victory over the Bears.

Play #1

The first play we’ll look at is Mark Sanchez’s touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the first drive of the game.

Now some folks might say that this was too easy, or that it was just a lucky throw, but I really like Sanchez’s decision and moxy (is that still a word?) on this play.

The Bears are in an all out blitz. Like, all. out. They rush their entire front 7 and leave each DB on an island against their respective match-ups. Now remember this is 3rd and long so the DBs are playing off, and expecting that the blitz will get there pretty quick since they are sending one more guy than the offense can block.

Because of this, the most likely throw Sanchez would make is the 10-yard out to Jordan Norwood right around the first down marker. Instead, Sanchez sees one-on-one coverage versus his #1 WR, and lobs one up for his guy. He was going there the entire play. This was reminiscent of when Peyton would see 1v1 and just immediately snap it and throw a go-route. (No I’m not comparing Sanchez to Peyton Manning, stop).

Here’s the matchup Sanchez sees. If I’m him, I throw this up to DT 9 out of 10 times.

The DB covering Norwood actually slips, so the out route is there if Sanchez wants it, but the go-route to DT is the bigger play.

The corner covering DT looks like he gets caught peeking at the QB and anticipates that he will throw the out route. Look at him take a step and look towards Sanchez and Norwood. By the time he realizes the ball is flying over his head, it is too late.

He obviously played this poorly, but I like Sanchez’s decision even if the coverage was half-way decent. And he hung in and took a big hit from our boy Danny Trevathan while dropping the ball right where it needed to be.

Play #2

Now for the next big play everyone has been talking about. The interception from Sanchez on the very next drive.

This is going to be a play action stretch run to the left, with a beautiful bootleg back to the right. Latimer is going to run a whip route and be the shallow option in the flat, while Bennie Fowler comes all the way across the field for the deeper route. Sanchez essentially has three simple options. Fowler deep, Latimer shallow, or keep it. This is classic Kubiak offense and it’s fun to see!

So far this is looking really good. The line was completely sold on the run, Sanchez is comfortably rolling right with his eyes downfield. Latimer is decently covered in the flat by the circled corner. Notice he is at the 50. Fowler is off-screen being chased by the MLB Jerrell Freeman, which is a total mismatch and Fowler is open.

So this is what Sanchez sees at the time of release. Actually its a little late since the ball is already flown a little ways in the air. What Sanchez saw before the throw was Fowler beating his man across the field, and the corner covering Latimer with his feet planted at the 50. Once the ball is released you can see the corner start to stop and backpedal towards it.

Here’s another angle. You can see how open Fowler is, and how the ball is on a perfect trajectory to him. I originally thought the ball was thrown behind him before I saw this.

Now look at the play the corner makes on the ball. When he makes contact with the ball, he is nearly at the 45 yard line. Remember, his feet were planted at the 50 covering Latimer when Sanchez threw it. This guy makes a heck of a play to not only read the QB, but get back in time to get a hand on the ball.

This is the same corner who was burned a few plays earlier for peeking at the QB, but it pays off this time. This play reminds me of the great pick that Bradley Roby made on Matthew Stafford in Detroit when he left his primary responsibility and jumped a route.

I know Sanchez will get crap for this interception, especially from those who just see the box score. Obviously he needs to take care of the ball, but I don’t really blame him for this pick. Just great play by a defender trying to make up for getting burned earlier. And Jerrell Freeman, who will get credit for the pick, did nothing but get beat in coverage to earn this. Just another reminder that stats don’t tell the whole story.

Play #3

On that note, we move over to the defensive side of the ball and look at a strip sack by undrafted player Vontarrius Dora. Dora played great Thursday night and definitely did some good things on this play. But it was really rookie Adam Gotsis who made this happen.

Dora does a great job getting off the tackle here. But check the stutter step and rip move Gotsis puts on the guard.

Gotsis likely gets this sack on his own if the guard isn’t holding him.

Play #4

Next, we shift back to the offense with our second QB of the night.

The sample size on Siemian wasn’t super large on Thursday, but from the throws I saw he looked to be in sync timing wise with his receivers. He hit a skinny post earlier in the drive that was a 5-step and release timing route and it looked nice.

This play was a particularly nice throw and was also in rhythm. There were reports that he’s been holding the ball too long in camp so it was nice to see him get to his drop and let it fly.

This is a nicely placed ball but the DB just makes a good play to break it up.

That’s just about where you want it on one of those line drive, back shoulder throws.

Play #5

Over on the defensive side, it was nice to see another rookie get involved in a sack.

Safety, Will Parks is lined up as a linebacker in our big dime, the role that T.J. Ward usually plays (we broke down our big dime package here). This is interesting to see them use him like this, which confirms what we thought about him being your backup SS while Simmons is the backup FS.

Parks runs a nice delayed blitz, and the LG completely missed him. Watch the play below. The guard is double teaming the NT with the center and lets Parks run right by him.

It will be fun to see what Wade has cooked up for our new safeties and how they’re used throughout the pre-season and into the season.

Play #6

This last play is from our 3rd QB of the night, Paxton Lynch.

I was going to breakdown his rifle pass over the middle to Jordan Taylor, but that’s been seen a lot so I figure I’d leave it here for folks to see and break down another one.

I really like how he climbs the pocket in this play though. He has a laser, rocket arm too.

The play below ended up being called back due to a stupid unnecessary roughness penalty by James Ferentz.

Here, it’s a quick drop and he has Durron Neal and Garrett Graham stacked at the top. They’re going to run a combination while Krieger-Coble runs a square-in to occupy the linebackers.

The key is the linebacker highlighted above because I don’t know what the DBs are doing. They are ten yards deep and nowhere near the action. If the linebacker sinks into a middle zone, Graham’s route is open but Neal is covered. If he follows Graham, Neal is open on the hitch. Krieger-Coble’s route occupies #45, the MLB, enough so that he doesn’t affect Neal’s route.

What stuck out to me on this play was that Lynch started on a read, came off of it, and then went back to it for the completion. Check it out.

He starts the play looking at Neal, then comes over and checks Graham just for a split second.

After his glance at Graham, he comes back to his original read and makes the play to Neal.

I point this out because one of the concerns coming from college was the system he was in and how often he never went past his first read on plays. That won’t work in the NFL, so it is nice to see growth in this area. He looks like he is coming along nicely.

Alright folks, that’s all I got! Let’s get some discussion rolling in the comments, and be looking for the next breakdown after preseason game 2.