During the Super Bowl, the Seattle Seahawks had the Denver Broncos number from start to finish, literally. The first Broncos snap went for a safety. It was clear from even before that, things were off for Denver after a botched coin flip. It started off bad, and just got worse.
Now, there are many differences for each team. The Broncos are walking in to Century Link field with 17 new starters from the Super Bowl (including special teams). Even the Seahawks have some changes. Gone are Golden Tate, Chris Clemons, Walter Thurmond and Red Bryant, among others.
With so many changes, what areas can the Broncos look to exploit, in hopes of gettting an upper hand on the Seahawks? Well, let’s take a look, starting with the Broncos exploiting the Seahawks defense.
The first area for the Broncos to look at is exploiting linebacker K.J. Wright. So far in two games this season opposing quarterbacks have a 100% completion percentage, going 9-9 and 112 yards and a touchdown. Last year, Wright ranked 11th for 4-3 OLB’s in coverage (minimum 25% snaps played) from ProFootballFocus.com (Subscription required), allowing 32 catches on 47 targets. So far for this season, Wright ranks 18th. But, coverage isn’t his only area that can be exploited. Against the run, he ranks 19th out of 23. Again, with a minimum of 25% snaps played.
Wright is a talented player, but he has weaknesses all over. In coverage, he gets matched up all over the place. Mainly, he gets matched up with tight ends and running backs. If he gets matched up on Julius Thomas, expect Peyton Manning to look that way.
Another way to exploit the Seattle defense is forced mismatches. Get Demaryius Thomas lined up with a linebacker. Use pre-play motions to get the favorable matchup. This is something that has not been seen a whole lot from Denver, especially with motioned receivers.
Also, to help get mismatches, stick to one formation for majority of the game. In the two games so far, the Broncos have used 12 personnel for most of the game. Against the Chiefs, the only time they had three receivers on the field was on the Andre Caldwell drop.
The final way for the Broncos offense to exploit the Seattle defense is to unleash the beast. Cody Latimer has such an excellent matchup with the Seahawks secondary, but has been wasting away on the bench so far. Even if he isn’t the primary target, throw him in there. No team has film on Latimer, because he hasn’t played. That gives Denver a slight edge, one that will be handy.
Latimer is a physical monster. He can knock you out as a blocker, just ask Antoine Bethea. That doesn’t come close to summing up his physical gifts as a receiver. He has surprising quickness, which can be used to take Sherman off guard. Latimer could very well be Denver’s secret weapon. Use him and let him being unknown exploit the Seattle defense.
All three areas just happen to be the Broncos offense vs the Seattle defense. Why? Because that is primarily where the Broncos have to exploit. In the Super Bowl, the Seahawks exploited the Broncos offense, which led to 8 points. A change in that department has to be made.
Exploit Wright, cause mismatches, and utilize Latimer. All three are equally important. Doing these three things should put points on the board. The magic number is 24 points, unless the Broncos defense gets destroyed. 24 points by the Broncos, at least, should lead to a Broncos victory.