This season, each and every week, I will bring you a film review article, exclusively for Mile High Huddle. Every touchdown that the Broncos score will be broken down for you. Here. On Mile High Huddle.
First, an explanation of my film schematics. The red arrows indicate routes or movement, coverage (as best I see it) will be indicated in squares. Blitzers will have green lines. The scorer’s name is underlined in yellow. Personnel are on the side in white. Once the play begins, I’ll circle things in yellow to bring your attention to them and players’ lines of sight will be in pink. The explanation of routes can be found here:
All this terminology and diagramming will be fairly clear when you see a play broken down. I list the TD# in game.
All images from NFL Game Rewind.
TD 1: 5 yard Demaryius Thomas pass
Although C.J. Anderson is in the backfield, the Broncos declare their pass intentions by using 11 personnel with Jacob Tamme as the TE…split out wide right. The Dolphins know they are unlikely to run, and so counter with 6 in the box. They double Wes Welker and Tamme right effectively. Jelani Jenkins actually gets very good trail coverage on Demaryius Thomas as he goes across the middle, but Manning forces the ball into the zone coverage. Watch him move Reshad Jones left towards Sanders well long enough to give DT a window.
TD 2: 14 yard Demaryius Thomas pass
If you’re familiar with my perspective, you will no doubt be expecting me to say that the Broncos shouldn’t go empty backfield on a 3rd and 1. That is true…but situational football overrules here. Fourteen yards to go with :16 on the clock means it is perfectly acceptable to spread the field.
What is not as palatable is keeping Jacob Tamme in as an in-line TE…as a blocker…matched one-on-one…on 6-sack monster DE Olivier Vernon. This is a recipe for disaster, and if Clady’s standing 4i tech Dion Jordan doesn’t drop into coverage, the play could easily be ruined. Vernon gets around Tamme with a simple arm-over and has a clear shot at Manning. Clady drops and gets a shoulder into Vernon, with a play-saving move. Tamme should not be blocking, much less in this situation.
Demaryius Thomas’ route is quite impressive. Watch Reshad Jones bite on the small shoulder sell to the outside. Then Thomas plants his outside foot and accelerates to the inside. Jones is left over-compensating and leaving the deep middle open in the Cover 2. Great route.
A note: Wes Welker also appears to be interfered with by Jimmy Wilson, who had a rough day. So this play easily could have come back.
TD 3: 5 yard Demaryius Thomas pass
Thankfully, the Broncos decide to use Virgil Green as the TE here, and he serves as an effective motion man. Demaryius Thomas fakes the fade and cuts inside. Pro Bowler Brent Grimes is left off his feet for a moment and he trips. Easy six points for a receiver like Thomas, even against competition as top-notch as Grimes.
TD 4: 10 yard C.J. Anderson run
Why is Virgil Green such a crucial component to this offense? Because the Broncos can trust him as an in-line TE…as a blocker…matched one-on-one…on All-Pro Cameron Wake. He simply stands Wake up at the point of the attack. It’s time Green gets recognition for the elite-level blocking he brings to this offense.
A Peyton Manning TE doesn’t need to be a great pass-catcher. That’s simply a bonus, but with receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, it’s an optional luxury. TEs do need to be good blockers, and Green checks that box and more. Both Gs get good blocks on this play – LG Orlando Franklin pulls and takes LB Jelani Jenkins, while RG Manuel Ramirez gets out front and walls off LB Koa Misi.
TD 5: 2 yard Wes Welker pass
Now, I’m no expert on hand signals in the Peyton Manning offense, but watch what he does as he recognizes the stacked, 8-man blitz. He walks up to the center and makes a rolling motion with his hands. He flashes this audible to the receivers and OL.
This could well be the play “Roll Montana” he has used several times, most recently against the Chargers. Now, I’m not sure if that rolling motion means to roll the OL blocking or not, if it’s even a dummy audible, but that’s exactly what happens. With the Dolphins bringing an overload blitz left, Manning knows that he can eliminate that threat by rolling the line right.
The roll happens effectively and Manning hits Welker on the 2-yard out. The Broncos attempt to rub the defenders but fail to draw any kind of timing.
Check back next week for more scores to examine!