On Tuesday night, I sat down on my living room, grabbed an iced tea and turned on the All-22 film of the Denver Broncos beating the Baltimore Ravens. It was a lackluster offensive game with dynamite defense. Denver only recorded two sacks, but they could have had 10. It was that kind of day for the Broncos’ pass rush.
Admittedly, much of what Denver did against Baltimore won’t be done against the Kansas City Chiefs. Why? Because the personnel is completely different and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips understands where the different strengths and weaknesses are. On offense, Denver will be seeing a completely different coverage scheme. The Broncos faced zone and off-man all day long against Baltimore (the Ravens finally climbed up into tight coverage a bit more in the second half, but still not much). Against the Chiefs, it will be press-man coverage all night.
Here were my main takeaways from the film review:
- Peyton Manning is still a good quarterback, but his arm strength is definitely gone on throws outside the numbers. Manning can complete any pass in between the numbers with decent zip, but if he needs to throw on an out or corner route, it will be a serious struggle.
- Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are going to be a handful again. Sanders killed Baltimore with short routes. He also got open a few time on deep routes, but Manning was unable to hit him, overthrowing him every time. Look for Phillip Gaines to draw this assignment. Certainly, Denver has the advantage on the outside.
- The offensive line has major issues. Matt Paradis had all kinds of problems moving Chris Canty and Brandon Williams in the run game, and can be walked back into the pocket. This should be a matchup that Dontari Poe wins all night. Also, Evan Mathis was deplorable in the passing game. Frankly, I was stunned. The communication is the biggest issue, though. Blitzers were coming free all day. I would be expecting Bob Sutton to bring corners, safeties and overloads in blitzing situations.
Onto the defense…
- Denver has a wicked pass rush. The Broncos were getting push on the inside Vance Walker, Sylvester Williams and Malik Jackson, but the main guys are edge-rushers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller. This is the other area where I believe Kansas City is at a disadvantage. The Chiefs should be able to handle the interior rush and I think Donald Stephenson handles Ware, but Miller against Jah Reid is a mismatch.
- The linebackers are very fast, and very aggressive. They flow to the ball and crash hard, making them very tough to run against. However, Baltimore did have a bit of success running counters and misdirection. Considering the Chiefs have Jamaal Charles, I would be calling for plenty of this, along with screens.
- Kansas City’s passing game will be tested in this contest. The Broncos have two very good corners in Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. Jeremy Maclin will need to win some of his battles, but the highlight should be Travis Kelce. Kelce should be able to win against any linebacker in the league, and I don’t see T.J. Ward or Darian Stewart slowing him down either.
- Denver plays a ton of base and nickel. Almost never in dime
- On offense, the Broncos are almost always in 3 WR, TE, RB formations
- The pace is much slower than it used to be, and Manning is now under center quite a bit
- Kansas City should be trying to press, force reroutes and play against crosses/slants
- Finally, I would not blitz much. Chiefs have the front four to get through Denver’s line
- Drop the linebackers into shallow zones, play press on the corners, and get after it.