I know the Denver Broncos are 0-3 and there’s a lot of plays being left out on the field against the Green Bay Packers, lack of talent at some positions, and lack of execution overall holding them back from playing their best football.
However, after watching the tape from Sunday’s game, I’m encouraged by this team right now. If injuries don’t continue to pile up and they are able to get healthy and clean up some execution, they have a strong shot to turn this thing around.
I thought for this week, instead of steering negative like the last two weeks, I would focus on some bright spots I saw on both sides of the ball. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, there were many other good plays out there, especially on offense, but I chose a few of my favorite to highlight.
First, aside from the turnovers, which obviously are significant, this was one of the best games I have seen from Denver’s offense in a long time. Overall I thought Rich Scangarello called a heck of a game. A lot different looks and some creative plays that also got the ball out fast.
Lindsay in the passing game
I wrote back in August how I hoped to see the team use the running backs in the passing game. This game, they started to open up that part of the offense and get Lindsay involved.
These angle routes out of the backfield like above when matched up on a linebacker are so deadly. Sanders draws away the middle coverage with a crossing pattern and Lindsay slips directly behind him into the wide open space. Great design by Scangarello.
Speaking of Lindsay in the passing game, another nice design drawing the defense right with routes from Sutton and Sanders, and Lindsay flares out into the open field. Get this man out in space and let him shake tackles from corners all day. Nice lead blocking by Sutton here as well.
Did the Broncos run an RPO on Sunday?? I didn’t realize those were allowed in Denver.
This is absolutely brilliant. The line and backs are running outside zone right. Flacco is going to key on the backside linebacker and as soon as he takes a step down towards the line of scrimmage and towards the run flow, Flacco pulls the ball and hits Heuerman right in the open space.
Super cool play. I want to see more of this.
Anticipation over the middle to Fant
Joe Flacco has always been more of a “see it, throw it” type of quarterback and has struggled with consistently throwing with anticipation.
Here, however, he shows really nice anticipation and timing as he releases the ball as Fant is breaking inside. Ball placement is in a good spot for Fant to go get. I love stretching the seams with the big tight end.
Courtland Sutton had a really nice game, racking up five catches for 87 yards on seven targets. I thought about featuring his big deep play here, but I really like the design of this one. This is an example of what they need more of in the red zone. It’s a really nice design by Scangarello to stretch the defense out horizontally to get Sutton some space to work.
Scangarello uses the RB motion here to widen the underneath defender. The RB is literally just a decoy. Now, they could come back and throw a bubble screen to him on another iteration of this play, but here he serves his purpose. Sanders keeps #50 occupied at the hashes, which leaves a nice little hole in the zone for Sutton to sit down in.
Overall there was a lot to like out of the offense, and if they can clean up the turnovers, I think we’ll see them put together some really nice games the next few weeks.
I know this defense has gotten a lot of grief for not getting to the quarterback, but I thought this week was much improved in terms of their affect on the QB and getting pressure. They mixed in a variety of stunts and line games to try and generate some pass rush. Rodgers also showcased his escapability, slipping out of a few would-be sacks.
The pressure had an effect, though. This play won’t show up on the stat sheet at all, but Dre’Mont Jones and Von Miller saved a touchdown here.
Bausby had a great game replacing Isaac Yiadom, and was a definite bright spot. We’ll get to him in a minute, but he also had one play he would like to have back. Here Bausby let’s the receiver get behind him, and if Rodgers is able to step up and find him, it would have been an easy 6.
However, Dre’Mont Jones and Von Miller run a nice T/E stunt that puts immediate heat on Rodgers so he is forced to scramble and throw it away.
This is on a 3rd down as well. Denver overall held Green Bay to 2-9 on 3rd down conversions. This was one of them, and we’ll look at a few more in a minute, but don’t anyone try to tell you our rush isn’t getting home or affecting the game. This is a great example of team defense, where the rush picked up a little slack for the coverage.
I know the edge rushers get paid to rush the passer, but Bradley Chubb has been a monster in the run game all season.
Here he flashes his burst, quickness, and play recognition to blow this one up in the backfield.
Speaking of that, Kareem Jackson has been a great asset in the run game and has really thrived around as a enforcer around the line of scrimmage.
Now for the ultimate bright spot, De’Vante Bausby. He came in mid way through the first half and never gave back his spot, and I don’t think he will all season. Yiadom started the game, but finished with only 24% of the defensive snaps, with Bausby taking 72%.
Bausby came up big in big moments, making a splash on nearly every 3rd down he was on the field for. Here is a 3rd and 6. Bausby shows perfect technique from off coverage and immediately reads and breaks on the out route.
This is how you stop the quick passing game (yes, even while playing off coverage). This is what I was calling for Yiadom to do in my week 1 breakdown. Be decisive and explosive downhill.
Bausby is definitely explosive on the very next 3rd down. This is a 3rd and 3 and this time he presses up on the receiver and smothers his initial route. For those calling for more effective press coverage, Bausby is your guy. He showed great ability to press, disrupt, and stay in the receiver’s hip pocket when he was asked to press.
Rodgers scrambles and keeps the play alive so Bausby has to work back to his receiver and comes screaming in for a big hit on the sideline to jar the ball loose.
What a play.
On yet another 3rd down, this one a 3rd and 12, Bausby once again shows that he’s the anti-Yiadom by quickly recognizing and closing on the route and making the tackle short of the sticks.
His ability to recognize and break on route concepts reminds me a lot of Kyle Fuller, who played for Fangio in Chicago. I think Bausby could have a similar impact in this defense if he continues to grow.
Here he puts that ability to use and breaks on the slant/flat concept, cutting it off on the backside of the play.
He is going to house one of these soon, I guarantee it.
Lastly, his explosiveness downhill and willingness to stick his nose in there for the tackle is on display here on the WR screen.
I can’t wait to see more of this guy on Sunday. I think he has a bright future in this defense.
I hope you enjoyed perhaps a bit of a change of pace here and are encouraged by the fact that some good football is being played by this team. They just need to put it all together without egregious mistakes that have plagued them up to this point.
As always, let me know your thoughts below!