“I mean, come on. I just look at it like we’re now a 2-6 football team and we look like we’re afraid to go for it in a two-minute drill. You know?”
There’s been frustration over the offense since the second half collapse to the Jacksonville Jaguars, which continued in the second half of the Chargers game. It snowballed into an interview after the Colts loss where the Broncos chose to run on 3rd and 5, failed to convert, and proceeded to lose a one point lead in the final minutes.
In the immediate aftermath of the Colts loss, I was right there with Flacco. I thought the Broncos floundered and wound up losing the game because they were too cautious. If you want more of my rationale there, I talked about it at length with Joe Mahoney and Jeff Essary earlier this week.
Since then, Vic Fangio came out and explained how the Broncos planned to go for it if the 3rd and 5 run had gotten 3 or 4 yards. This explains the decision to run rather than pass, as it’s a guaranteed way to force the Colts to burn a timeout or time off the clock.
After getting my hands on the All-22 Tuesday night, the call made even more sense. I also figured out why it failed so badly.
The Broncos had a number advantage at the point of attack, and if either Connor McGovern or Elijah Wilkinson make it to the Colts’ linebacker Darius Leonard, Phillip Lindsay probably gets a first down. I say this as a statement of fact more than to blame any player. Leonard was an All Pro last year and he’s really dang good. It happens.
While I would have probably planned to pass the ball on 3rd and 5 if I’d faced the same situation in my Madden brother bowl franchise, it’s hard to blame the Broncos for going the way they did. The thought process made sense, it just didn’t work.
This is a common statement with the Broncos’ offense this year. Over the last three weeks, I’ve studied the second halves of the Jaguars’ and Chargers’ games twice over.
As has been the case all season (yes, even when the Broncos offense looked halfway decent), the biggest issue was a quarterback who didn’t process the information on the field quickly enough. This was covered at length last week.
So it should be no surprise it cropped up during the Colts’ game as well.
Closer look at the 3rd and goal everyone is up in arms about passing on. Fant coming across in motion signals man.— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) October 30, 2019
Fant is open and this is a touchdown if it's thrown on time, or even somewhat late. Flacco waited way too long to throw this ball. pic.twitter.com/SXlce9JmNy
One of the big complaints Flacco defenders have had about the play calling is how Rich Scangarello doesn’t dial up enough plays where a receiver is open over the middle in the shallow part of the field. The thinking goes that this would play into Flacco’s strengths, as it’s a primary read and still hides Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson.
If they were watching the tape, they’d see Scangarello’s done just that all season. He also tried in Indianapolis multiple times. This is the most painful example:
The play above comes from the Broncos’ final third down of the 1st half. They’re creeping towards midfield with 1:11 left on the clock and all three timeouts, so the first down conversion is by far the most important goal.
What follows still baffles me days later.
Rich Scangarello’s design calls for Phillip Lindsay to go into motion. This serves two purposes. The first is that it forces the Colts to declare what their coverage shell is. Now, there’s ways to muddle this and some of the really savvy coordinators do just that, but even still this is almost certainly Man coverage based on spacing and the way Lindsay has a defender follow him. Based on situation and alignment, it’s almost certainly a variation of Cover 1.
The Broncos are using a mesh concept, where two defenders run what amounts to a pick route over the middle of the field, creating a rub that should shake one free for an easy completion and space to operate after the catch. It’s a staple of NFL passing games and has been for years.
Pressure off the edges flushes Flacco, and the veteran begins to scramble. I’m not a doctor, but I do suspect that the borderline(?) late hit by Darius Leonard is what eventually lead to Flacco’s neck injury that has him inactive against the Browns.
That pressure is also the one excuse any Flacco stan really has for what transpires on this play, but even that falls apart on closer scrutiny. While Bolles and Wilkinson both give up heat off the edges, the middle of the pocket is clean. It’s hard to imagine a 12-year veteran who knows the play call wouldn’t realize he can step up, deliver an easy throw to Sutton on his drag, and watch the 2nd year star create a huge play to set up a scoring opportunity.
At least until you realize that 12-year veteran is Joe Flacco.
Plenty of pocket and room to step up into. This is a great concept for springing Sutton free and fits into what fans have been calling for from Scangarello, more crossing routes over the middle.— Jeffrey Essary (@JeffreyEssary) October 30, 2019
QBs gotta hit them though.
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Did Joe Flacco have a point, or is he part of the problem?
If Flacco wants to throw his coaching staff under the bus like this, he’s going to find his own play under review. Throughout the 2019 season, that’s not going to be a pretty prospect for him.
Courtland Sutton runs right by Rock Ya-Sin, with outside leverage, and Flacco underthrows him by a good 5 yards and to the inside. This is quite a feat when it’s only about 10 yards down the field instead of the deeper throws he used to collect on.
Joe Flacco looks like he forgot how to play football. Very bizarre— Joe Thomas (@joethomas73) October 27, 2019
Even though Lock could not practice during his first six weeks on injured reserve, his development in the cerebral aspects of learning how to be a professional quarterback continued. He participated in meetings. He stood on the sideline with a radio receiver in his ear for all games. He was a fixture at practice, often seen during the open-to-media periods near the quarterbacks and their coaches. Last week, as the quarterbacks would work on their drops, Lock would be several feet away, going through drops of his own, even though he wore a workout T-shirt while his teammates wore practice jerseys. There seems to be little more he can do while he waits.
I am trying not to read too much into what John Elway is saying here, but it sure looks like the reason Drew Lock won’t be activated until at least Week 11, despite being medically cleared, is because he hasn’t picked up the Denver Broncos offensive playbook yet.
The Denver Broncos haven’t lost back-to-back games to the Cleveland Browns since 1972-74. The Brandon Allen Era is underway.
So anyone want to place bets on Brandon Allen looking better than Flacco?— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 28, 2019
Todd Davis joined the Broncos Country Tonight crew Monday night to talk about the improving defense that still needs to do more.
Elijah Wilkinson has now taken 94% of the snaps for us at RT this season. As an undrafted college free agent his salary is $645k. So he has earned $638 per offensive snap this season. Because of the injuries and ineffectiveness, the Broncos have 9 starters (of 24) who are earning less than one million in salary (cap number) this season, 11 if you count Phillip Lindsay and Colby Wadman.
Broncos desperately need to do something about this Left Tackle situation. WOW...— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) October 30, 2019
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is getting testy with reporters asking him about the team’s offensive struggles. Mayfield was speaking with the media today when longtime Cleveland sports reporter Tony Grossi questioned him about a Browns drive that stalled in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots.
say that I’ve gotten complacent. My sense of urgency is at an all time high. And if I offend anybody along the way... that’s too bad— Baker Mayfield (@bakermayfield) October 30, 2019
At this season’s midway mark, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, and others are on pace or close to breaking some long-standing league records. Who could realistically get there by the end of the year?
The Bengals benched Andy Dalton in favor of rookie QB Ryan Finley. The veteran shared his frustration with the timing of the decision just hours before the trade deadline.
Tom Brady and Drew Brees remain at the top of their game, but they’ve been joined by a crop of young quarterbacks. As the position has evolved in the past 10 years, so has football.
Mesh is a staple concept across football - high school, college, NFL - it's everywhere.— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 30, 2019
Good offenses take FUNDAMENTAL concepts and ADD WRINKLES & ELEMENTS!
That's Matt LaFleur. He's adding something every week to the #Packers offense@CoachPaintCHhttps://t.co/70ol7q7Evz pic.twitter.com/8vBL8SvzDn
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson won’t be able to make the “Play Ball!” due to his left eye still being swollen from Sunday’s game.
The New York Jets are a disaster and nothing illustrates that more than the hiring of head coach Adam Gase
asked ryan griffin about this play and he confirmed that he wasn't even supposed to get the ball— charles (ronald) mcdonald (@FourVerts) October 30, 2019
also said it's pretty common for the pick player to get open on these and the stats aligned for an easy touchdown https://t.co/bYNkPB5BGc
The tank is real.
The Jaguars have started working Nick Foles back into practice as he makes his way back from the broken collarbone he suffered in the season opener and he’ll be eligible to play when the team returns from a bye to face the Colts.
Left tackle Trent Williams reported to Washington after Tuesday’s trade deadline passed without a deal sending him to another team, but he’s not going to be practicing with the team yet. Head coach Bill Callahan said on Wednesday that Williams did not pass his physical with the team.