What a win that was in Denver!
As with each and every game, there are always a few nuggets in the film and hopefully I can point out a few to you.
But you're an astute, intelligent football fan and I know that because you're taking the time to read my crazy film review. So, let's go put the film on, Bro...Texans v. Broncos style.
Playing nickel/dime v. run game
When the Texans are in nickel and dime, a concern of mine is that opposing offenses will check to a
Practice makes permanent
During the last two days of practice, Manning took Montee Ball and Emmanuel Sanders down to the end of the field to work with them individually during a ten minute defensive team period. More on Sanders later, but nearly every route that Ball ran in that period, he executed vs. the Texans first unit on the first drive. He caught four passes alone on the first drive and all I could think about was "teacher's pet".
The Texans defensive backs must, MUST, get out of the habit of catching receivers in their routes. Nearly every DB not named
He's not all the way there but he played a much more violent game than I've seen from him. He
A Rookie in name only
Heading into the 2013 CFB season, I said that former Ohio State CB Bradley Roby was the second most talented defensive player I saw on film. We all know who was number one (hint...he wears 90 for your Texans) but I knew he had loads of potential. He didn't play up to it in 2013 but he flashed enough for the Broncos to make him a number one pick at the bottom of the first round.
He's back to playing like that player I saw on film in 2012. His technique is excellent for a young player. On the first play of the game, he was in a trail man technique on
Heads on swivels
I've harped on this before, it's real easy as an underneath defender to get lost watching the QB on
Anatomy of a Drive...following the pick, Second quarter Texans drive
Play 1 - "Windback" counter action...LT
Result: Six yard gain
Play 2 - Quick out to Grimes...Broncos in a zone dog, dropped Pot Roast Knighton into coverage. Broncos DL Derek Wolfe nearly beat Su'a-Filo to the QB but Fitzpatrick drilled one to Grimes in the
Result: 24 yard gain
Play 3 - Naked bootleg...Fitzpatrick played pitch and catch easily to a wide open Fiedorowicz for another first down.
Result: 12 yard gain
Play 4 - Zone BOB (back on backer)...FB
Result: Nine yard gain
Play 5 - Double "layered" outs...Fitzpatrick had Grimes at the first down marker to draw the CB. Fiedorowicz ran the deeper out on the same side with the LB on his hip to the far back pylon. Fitzpatrick hit a wide open Fiedorowicz for a TD on that exact play during practice on Tuesday. This time, Irving had great coverage and Fitzpatrick had no room to make the throw.
Result: Incomplete (15 yard penalty on XSF for a face mask - got blown back and then grabbed a face mask unintelligently)
Play 6 - Straight drop, curl route with RB wheel...great protection, perfect window, great route - pitch and catch to
Result: 12 yard gain
Play 7 - Trips clear out, shallow under to Johnson...Roby made a ridiculously good break through all the traffic. If Roby was lazy, Dre would've walked into the end zone, but Roby met Dre right as he caught the ball and kept him short of a first down.
Result: Three yard gain
Result: Four yard gain.
Play 9 - Zone BOB/Isolation...a couple of key blocks. First, Pot Roast was all the way in a 2i (inside eye of the guard) and C
Result: One yard TOUCHDOWN.
He might've been just a bargain basement pick up in the offseason, but mark my words, this man will be a factor in this defensive line rotation. He picked up a sack on a beautifully executed twist stunt with
Speaking of Nix
I made a comment to Marc Vandermeer during the week at the Broncos practice facility that I didn't think Nix would be ready for a while. Boy, was I wrong. From field level, I thought he played a whale of a game for a guy playing his first NFL snaps. He drew a holding penalty on one play. He stoned C/G at the LOS on a handful of plays. It was truly a positive sign that he's close to contributing when September 7 rolls around.
Manning to Sanders, Part 1
I'll be honest, I'm not 1,000% sure what the coverage was as I can't see it on the TV copy but it looked like quarters coverage. But the one thing I do know as a former safety is with 1:15 left, keep all different colored jerseys in plain sight in front of you. Similar to the route earlier that Bouye picked off, Manning had a corner route to the one receiver side, but this time he wanted the post to Sanders on the two receiver side. Once Sanders started vertical, Bouye was responsible for him and
That said, the backside safety
Manning to Sanders, Part 2
After getting the ball back and after Swearinger's infamous 15 yard penalty, the Broncos had ten seconds to work with, ball on the 29 yard line. The Broncos are in a 2x2 formation, with two receivers to each side. The Texans are in what appears to be Tampa two - cover two with ILB running down the middle to help on a TE seam route, in particular. Sanders was the No. 1 receiver and he ran a stutter and go. Now, against a cover two shell, that route shouldn't work. But, Pleasant was late getting off the hash, in large part due to the fact that he stayed a split second too long on the seam route by TE Julius Thomas. The problem was that ILB
The Savage Drive...for lack of a better name
If, and when,
Play 1 - Zone stretch to the left...RB
Result: One yard loss.
Play 2 - Three step quick out...Savage hit WR
Result: Seven yard gain
Play 3 - Quick game, option route to Labhart...the rookie receiver read zone and settled in between the two second level defenders for the catch. Savage stared down the blitz and delivered the ball quickly for a first down.
Result: Six yard gain.
Play 4 - Zone stretch...Powell made the right read this time, sprinting decisively up behind the center for a solid gain on first down.
Result: Seven yard gain.
Play 5 - Zone again...stuffed - RT didn't stay on block and that defender made the play.
Result: No gain.
Play 7 - Three step again...Broncos brought five and the OL/RB picked it up for the most part. Labhart, knowing he had man coverage with a two way go. He sold the quick flat route and the safety bit too hard on that route. Once Labhart knew he had the DB on his outside hip, he burst back to the middle and Savage hit him, a little behind him for key first down on fourth down.
Result: Six yard gain and huge first down.
Play 8 - Key here is the time it took to get back to the LOS...Savage had the team back at the line and executing the play within 14 seconds...5 step, Savage had Griffin on an option route. Griffin broke away from the LB and caught a dart between the 8 and the 4 in front of the CB. That ball left an imprint.
Result: Eight yard gain
Play 9 - Again, back up at the LOS ready to run the play w/in 15 seconds...the Broncos brought the blitz, off the edge this time. But, it didn't matter as Savage eyed Griffin from the beginning. Griffin was covered by former college DE, adjusting to OLB Kenny Anunike and Griffin made him look like a former college DE, adjusting to OLB. Griffin drove hard to Anunike's outside number, then when he got to the top of the numbers on the field, he swam back to the inside and Anunike was grabbing at air. Savage delivered a strike and Griffin was history.
Result: 29 yard TOUCHDOWN
Play 10 - 2-point conversion (after a TO to calm everyone down)...after I saw this play on film, I couldn't help but recall an episode of ESPN U's Film Room from this past January. Just prior to taking the Houston Texans job, O'Brien went to Bristol and joined Matt Millen and crew for a breakdown of Florida State and Auburn as those two teams readied for the BCS National Championship game. One thing I remember distinctly about that visit was Coach O'Brien breaking down how Florida State executed a traditional bunch pass route from a non-traditional bunch set. He explained perfectly that even if players aren't in a traditional three person bunch set, the offense can still get to the bunch route spots and have the same effect by using the RB in the backfield. The exact play O'Brien explained for the TV viewers was similar to the one he called for the two point play. Griffin ran to the far pylon while Powell, from the backfield, ran a flat route at the goal line. Labhart let those two clear and then ran for a spot just beyond the goal line and settled up. He's not the first option and may not be the second, but Savage made sure he got him the ball, no matter what option he was. Dart. Ball game.
Result: Savage to Labhart again...two point conversion good.
We'll see you again next week. Thanks for reading.