(“Maybe next time you should try a bolo tie”)
First off, yes, I’m amazing at Italian numerals. Secondly, “Choking the Seachickens?” Why? Because Tom Brady tears make the best lube.
So, yes, I’ve been gone for a while… but let’s really unite and focus on the most important thing for all Bronco fans right now: that I don’t selfishly monitor how you invest your personal time into your hobbies, so back off.
Also… we’re going to the Super Bowl!
…which is an issue in and of itself. I feel like the Wolfman where I know a terrible transformation is drawing near and that I need to take the necessary precautions and chain myself in a basement with a bowl of dog food so no one gets hurt. Fortunately, knowing that I cannot be trusted to conduct myself properly on Sunday, I have made those necessary arrangements and will be watching the game with my daughter and girlfriend–both of which are highly trained at ignoring anything and everything that I have to say.
Let’s dig in.
Analyzing the Seahawks’ Defense
The strength of the Seattle Seahawks team is clearly a hyper talented secondary… but what makes them so good? Seattle’s secondary drives off of the following elements:
1. They have a very good, one-gap, penetrating front seven across the board. Nearly every player in it is a successful pass-rusher. The key word here is volume. They don’t have a Von Miller/Aldon Smith to dictate protections, but everyone in their front seven is pretty good at it.
It’s effectively foregoing haymakers in favor of a dozen jabs.
The Broncos can and will limit this with a heavy-dose of their hurry up offense—staying in their base 11 personnel package and limiting Seattle’s opportunity to substitute fresh legs into their pass rush.
2. They are physical… and far beyond the point that the rules permit.
3. Earl Thomas is simply amazing and his ability and range over the top allow for the corners underneath to play even more aggressively.
4. Richard Sherman is super overrated but still very, very good and most especially at disguising his coverage pre-snap.
How to win against the Seahawks Man-Cover 3?
First and foremost, with a dozen sacks coming from their back seven, Denver needs to have their protection schemes properly prepared to handle the blitz. Fortunately, Manning/Gase/Ramirez and company are the best in the business in this regard, allowing a league low 20 sacks throughout the regular season (despite lining up against the likes of JJ Watt, Robert Mathis, Suggs and Dumervil, etc) and none throughout the AFC playoffs.
Now, what is Man-Cover 3? A traditional cover 3 has both corners and the free safety covering a deep third. In this coverage, the corners cannot allow someone to slip behind them in coverage as the safety couldn’t realistically get to the ball in time, so you see corners surrendering the underneath stuff and not breaking on short routes until the ball is in the air. In Seattle, however, Earl Thomas is so damn good, corners are able to break and squat on the underneath routes, giving the defense more man-coverage elements… and weaknesses.
Despite the Icarus-esque parallels of flying too close to the sun, as opposed to the traditional “shut down corner”, Richard Sherman does not travel. While I have no doubts that Manning and DT/Decker are very capable of melting his wings and drubbing him out of the “Best Corner in the league” nonsense, this presents a substantial amount of superior matchup opportunities for Denver’s immensely talented, base 11-personnel package.
Denver excels at attacking the underneath stuff (a weakness of the cover 3) and grabbing YAC yards in chunks. Expect the latter to be limited by the fundamentally-sound, solid tackling Seahawks defense, but far from eliminated as our monstrous receivers will minimally be able to continue falling forward for a couple more yards.
I would expect Denver to attack those “deep-third”s with some deep crosses out of Twins formations (twins away from Sherman—Sherman is a cerebral player who is easily capable of disguising his coverage pre-snap and baiting our receivers into the wrong read stemming into their route). This will not only isolate Maxwell and
Rapist Cox (if Demaryius lines up opposite Cox, do they play “Smell my finger” before the snap?), but it will also force some last second decisions by the corner and mid-field safety (Earl Thomas), and likely result in at least one big play. The Broncos would be wise to send Julius deep mid-field to threaten and hold the safety.
Lynch will be stopped. Twice. Once by the Broncos top-notch-and-getting-healthier run defense, and once by the scoreboard.
Defensively, Denver’s key is protecting the lead… which is something the Broncos have had issues with. Fortunately for the Broncos, the Super Bowl isn’t a time where defenders are likely to get caught napping with a big lead.
Lynch gets held under 50 yards as Peyton Manning fists Richard Sherman metaphorically and literally (the latter during halftime) and John Fox finally answers the question of “What does the Fox say?” with “Suck it, Pete Carroll”.
If your confidence is still shaken…
I plan on sacrificing my body to the football gods in the form of an ice bath on game day morning while I offer homage in the form of reciting my “Our Peyton, who art in Denver, hallowed be thy game”.
On a different note, I’d like to say something for the first–and likely the last—time, “Nice work, Goodell!” I mean…
Did you guys see the Pro Bowl?!?
If the Broncos weren’t on a historic pace for ass-kicking, this might have been my favorite game in quite some time. The players showed that the Pro Bowl is still important to them and, if this kind of play continues, it will definitely become important to the fans.
That’s Good Broncos (Happy Anniversary, Brandon Perna!)
Check out last week’s amazing episode on the New England victory and I’ll be sure to update this posting if any more become available.