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Playing the blame game for Bronco sacks 2018 - Part 2

Who was really at fault for the sacks the Denver Broncos allowed last season?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

This is the second part to my sack-blame-game trilogy of the Denver Broncos 2018 season. The first part is here.

Sack #10 - game 5

This sack occurred with the Broncos facing 3rd and 8 from our 41 with 12:19 left to play in the second quarter. The Jets showed seven who could blitz and brought five, dropping the middle two LBs into coverage.

From the presnap read, the safety to the offense’ left is Case Keenum’s responsibility if he comes along with the OLB/DE and the ILB (he has to hit his hot-read) since there are only two blockers on that side.

When the ball was snapped Matt Paradis recognized that both backers were dropping so he immediately looked to help on the weak side. Similarly Ron Leary looked backside to assist with Garett Bolles. Conner McGovern is locked up with the DE, while Billy Turner is misplaying this (from my read). Turner should be taking the inside man first yet he stayed with the safety (#37), who Devontae Booker is looking to cut (as he should have been doing).

This led to a situation where Turner and Booker both tried to block the DE while the LB got a free run. Paradis as this point had turned completely to the weakside, so he was unable to to see the free rusher looping into the A-gap. Had he stayed square he would have been able to at least attempt to pick that guy up.

Turner realized that he had screwed up and was trying to get back to pick up the man who he should have been blocking, but it was too late. This sack occurred at 3.20 seconds after the snap and, while Keenum had time to throw the ball, Turner is to blame for this sack.

Sack #11 - game 5

This sack occurred when the Broncos were facing 3rd and 12 from our own 23 with 9:59 left to play in the 2nd quarter. This was another obvious passing down. Again the Jets showed seven who could blitz. This time they only rushed three.

The three rushers should be easily handled by our five offensive lineman, but they weren’t. Leary began the play with no one to block. Paradis and McGovern double-teamed one player and our tackles (Bolles and Turner this play) were initially one-on-one with their defenders.

This was an example of miscommunication between Paradis and McGovern. Both players thought that the other was going to stay with the defender. Paradis moved to pick up the delayed safety that looked like he might come. McGovern moved to help Turner. This left the defender essentially unblocked. Paradis should have known the Leary was there to pick up the safety and that he could stay on the DE.

We ended up with two offensive lineman blocking a safety. McGovern tried to recover, but he was already beaten in this shot above. Turner was also getting beaten and both his man and McGovern’s got credit for the sack. However, this one is on McGovern since if he (and Paradis to a certain extent) had done what they were supposed to do, Keenum would have been able to step up into the pocket to avoid the outside rush. This sack happened 3.80 seconds after the snap (first contact on the QB), so again Keenum had time to get rid of the ball, but there was no one open.

Sack #12 - game 5

This sack occurred when the Broncos had 1st & 10 at their own 49 with 1:06 left to play in the first half. The Jets showed seven who could blitz (one is off-screen to the right).

They brought five with a double-B gap blitz.

Leary and Bolles doubled the RDT with an eye on the OLB, Paradis and McGovern doubled the LDT while peaking at the LB. Turner locked up with the DE. Booker recognized that the blitz was coming from the other side relative to him and he is sprinting to get there to pick up one of the two B-gap blitzers.

At this point (pic above) it looked like the play was well blocked. All five pass rushers were getting blocked (Turner is in the process of getting beaten, though). This sack happened at 3.70 seconds after the snap and Keenum clearly held the ball too long on this play. He needed to either find a receiver, or throw this one away. Turner’s man eventually got the sack, but this one is on Keenum.

Sack #13 - game 5

This sack happened when the Broncos had 3rd & 6 from the Jets 38 with 12:13 left in the 3rd quarter. Gaining 0 yards here could have led to a 55 yard FG attempt from Brandon McManus. The Jets showed six who could blitz.

They rushed four.

Paradis eyed the LB and looked to help Leary. Bolles, Turner and McGovern all had their defenders one-on-one. Booker made a quick show of pass blocking and ran a pattern.

Leonard Williams beat McGovern quickly across his face with a rip move and with Paradis assisting Leary and Booker running a route, there was a huge gap for him to shoot. Turner also got beaten fairly quickly with a speed outside rush from Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins and Williams split credit for the sack. McGovern was/is to blame here. Again Keenum might have been able to avoid the outside rush by stepping up into the pocket if McGovern did not get beaten so quickly and badly on this this play, but this sack happened 2.60 seconds after the snap so Keenum really had no time to throw as often happens with interior pressure.

Sack #14 - game 6

This sack occurred when the Broncos had the ball facing 4th and 3 from the Rams 39 with 46 seconds left to play in the half. The Broncos were down 13-3. This would have been a 56 yard attempt here, but those are well within McManus’ range in Denver. I guess Vance Joseph consulted his magic 8-ball and it told him to go for it here instead of attempting the FG. The Rams showed seven who could rush. They rushed five. In this pre-snap pic, you can see that Keenum is making sure Booker is aware of the possible CB blitz from #20, who does blitz.

Booker sprinted from the strong-side to pick up the CB. Bolles got a hand on him to help and then picked up the OLB. Paradis and Garcia were trying to double Aaron Donald, but you can see that Garcia’s feet are already perpendicular to the LOS. He had little chance of of blocking the DPOY at this point unless he could ride him upfield past the QB.

Booker started to break down to make his block, but the CB busted out a spin move, and quickly got past Booker. Paradis decided to help Turner instead of Max Garcia. Having to block Ndamokung Suh and Donald on the same side should be illegal.

Booker beaten by a spin move

Lamarcus Joyner, #20, got the sack, but Aaron Donald was closing in. Had Booker been able to block Joyner, Keenum might have had a pocket to step up into to avoid the pressure from Donald. This sack occurred 2.9 seconds after the snap. I blame Booker for this one. Keenum was shaken up on this hit.

The Rams got the ball at the 50 after this, but Bradley Chubb made sure that they could not attempt a FG before the half by sacking Jared Goff twice on the Rams possession and ostensibly forcing a punt. The Broncos got the ball back with 11 seconds left on the clock and one timeout from our own 9, leading to Chad Kelly’s one and only NFL snap, a kneel-down.

Sack #15 - game 6

This sack happened when we had 3rd and 7 from the 50 with 11:03 left to play in the 3rd quarter. The Rams showed five (or six) who could blitz and brought four. The Broncos were in an empty set with a heavy (double-tight) look on the left.

Garcia (now at LG) and Paradis double-teamed Donald while Bolles, McGovern and Turner were left to handle their defenders one-on-one. McGoven was already getting beaten in the picture above by Suh.

With the exception of McGovern getting owned by Suh, the protection is solid.

The inside pressure (yes, that’s holding - not called - on McGovern) forces Keenum to roll to his left where Donald, #99, will eventually take him down for a 14 yard loss. Keenum needed to get rid of this ball once he was outside of the pocket. The sack happens 6.1 seconds after the snap. While the pressure that forced Keenum outside of the pocket is the fault of McGovern, this sack is Keenum’s fault. Here’s the GIF I made for this one

Sack #16 - game 7

For this one I’ve made a GIF, so you can watch it happen and make your own call as to who is to blame. I put the blame for this one on Keenum despite the sack happening at 3.1 seconds post-snap. Keenum tries to run and loses a yard. You can decide for yourself.

Keenum could have rolled to his right and bought some time. He steps up in the pocket and right into two defenders. Chandler Jones ends up getting credit for the sack; he was being blocked by Bolles.

Sack #17 - Game 7

Because of the huge lead at this point (42-10), Keenum is under center for this play on 3rd and 11 with 6:22 left in the game (not sure why Keenum was even still in the game, but I digress). The Broncos have the ball on the Cardinals 13 yard line.

Booker whiffs on the cut block here and it is his man who ends up making the sack, but Keenum has to throw this ball or try to scramble up the middle. Rolling to the left was a bad decision. I choose to blame this one on Keenum, but you could argue that the blame should be split between Keenum and Booker (who showed exactly what NOT to do on a cut block if you are a RB).

While I like being able to show you the video of the plays. Making and converting the GIFs is cumbersome, so I’m going back to screenshots. My apologies to those who prefer GIFs.

Sack #18 - game 8

The Broncos had the ball 1st and 10 at the DEN 49 with 7:31 left to play in the first quarter. KC was in their base 3-4 and rushed only four defenders.

Garcia and Paradis double-teamed Chris Jones. This left Bolles, McGovern and Turner to handle their defenders by themselves.

Keenum was at the height of his drop at this point. He should have not drifted backwards in the pocket. Notice where his back foot was in the picture above.

Keenum stayed focused on the right side of the field while Bolles did a nice job of riding his man deeper than where the QB should have been. The double-team had stymied Jones and Turner was doing a decent job with his man. McGovern had lost his man, their NT, who was looping outside - right where Keenum wanted to roll, which forced Keenum to stop.

In starting to roll, Keenum drifted backward in the pocket which put him right in the path of Breland Speaks. This sack occurred at 3.7 seconds after the snap. Keenum should have thrown this ball. Looking at a snapshot from the all-22 film shows where Keenum missed a big play opportunity here if he had only bothered to look at the left side of the field (where we had three receivers) instead of fixating on the right where we had two.

Why not look left here?

I realize this would have been a difficult touch throw roughly 35 yards from where Case was standing, but Courtland Sutton can win a jumpball situation there so it’s not as difficult of a throw as it might look from this angle. I blame this sack on Keenum. Feel free to argue with me that this was Bolles’ fault; you’ll be wrong.

Sack #19 - game 8

This sack happened when we had the ball 3rd & 8 from the KC 49 with 6:11 to play in the 2nd quarter (our defense forced a 3-and-out before this). KC showed six that could rush. The Broncos had Booker in the backfield and a TE on that same side, Matt LaCosse.

The weakside looked vulnerable here with three KC defenders and three Denver blockers, plus another defender showing blitz in the strong-side A gap.

The Chiefs rushed five with a double A-gap blitz; Paradis took one while Booker met the other. Garcia and Bolles doubled Jones. Paradis, McGovern and Turner all had their defenders one-on-one.

In the pic above, Paradis, McGovern and Turner are all getting beaten. Paradis also appears (appeared) to be holding.

McGovern was able to drive his defender to the ground, but both Paradis and Turner got beaten badly letting Dee Ford and Reggie Ragland make a Keenum-sandwich. Ford also stripped the ball on this play. Paradis recovered it. The blame here is shared between Paradis and Turner. This sack occurred 2.6 seconds after the snap.

Sack #20 - game 8

The Broncos had the ball 3rd & 9 from the KC 20 trailing 14-23 with 7:46 to play in the 3rd quarter. KC showed seven (CB off-screen to the left) who could rush the passer and rushed four. Denver was again in the empty set.

KC’s LB #44, Durian O’Daniel drops into coverage, leaving McGovern and Turner to handle Chris Jones and the blitzing CB, #23.

Jeff Heuerman chipped on Ford and then left him for Bolles. McGovern should have taken Jones and bumped Turner outside to get the CB (this is called forcing a switch if you are curious). Instead, McGovern dropped to get the CB which left Turner to try and block Jones in an impossible position to do so. Now bear in mind that Jones had lined up way outside of Turner pre-snap so the blame here is almost entirely on Turner. You can’t get beaten across your face like that.

The All-22 shot above from the same time shows that Keenum had a man open deep left (again not an easy throw, but one that an average NFL QB should be able to make) if he had a tiny bit more time and space to make the throw. This sack happened 2.60 seconds after the snap so Keenum would have had to make this read really quickly, but there was a man open, particularly if put the ball on the left sideline.

Sack #21 - game 8

This is fourth of the five sacks we allowed in KC. Trailing by 10 with 12:22 left to play in the game, Denver faced 3rd & 9 from the KC 39. KC showed max blitz with 9 players near the LOS (two are off-screen).

This looks like they are trying to overload the strong side with four rushers and only three guys to block them, but the walked-up safety may or may not blitz at this point.

They ended up rushing three. Turner was left blocking air as was Booker in the shot above. Bolles did a good job initially of kicking out to pick up Ford who lined up in a very wide 9 position (and offsides).

In the shot above, Bolles was getting beaten by a speed rush while McGovern, Turner and Booker were all thinking that the other guy is going to block the defender.

Turner and McGovern recovered enough to slow the defender, but Ford was already past Bolles and made the strip-sack which KC recovered. The holding penalty on Bolles was declined. This one is/was solely on Bolles. The sack occurred 2.9 seconds after the snap. Bolles was unable to force Ford deep enough to push him out of the play.

Sack #22 - game 8

The final sack of the day that we gave up at KC happened when the Broncos were facing 1st & 10 from our 12 with 7:10 left to play in the game. This was a coverage sack. KC only rushed four. The sack occurred 4.2 seconds after the snap. I am only go to show the all-22 shot of how good the coverage was. Keenum really only had one good option here - dumping the ball off to Phillip Lindsay on the wheel route. Everything else was covered well.

Keenum tried to scramble and was “sacked” for a 0 yard gain (or loss). If you want to even consider this a sack, then the blame should lie with Keenum for not throwing the ball to Lindsay (or even Heuerman on the deep out).

The Table of cumulative blame through 8 games is below.

Sack # Time to sack (s) Blame
1 2.60 Paradis
2 2.80 Booker and Bolles
3 3.90 Bolles
4 2.40 Veldheer
5 3.70 Keenum
6 2.30 Lindsey
7 2.50 Bolles
8 5.90 nobody
9 2.60 Heuerman or Booker
10 3.20 Turner
11 3.80 McGovern
12 3.70 Keenum
13 2.60 McGovern
14 2.90 Booker
15 6.10 Keenum
16 3.10 Keenum
17 3.30 Booker or Keenum
18 3.70 Keenum
19 2.60 Paradis and Turner
20 2.60 Turner
21 2.90 Bolles
22 4.20 Keenum?

It should be noted that during the first 8 games of the season the Broncos allowed 22 sacks. In the final eight games of the season, they allowed just 12.