The Broncos have at times struggled a bit against press man coverage. The Colts gave them some problems with press man. That’s a good way to play the Broncos if you have the personnel.
And the Chiefs have the personnel.
At one outside cornerback, Marcus Cooper is 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds. At the other corner, Sean Smith is 6-3, 218 pounds. They match up well size-wise with Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
If safety Eric Berry is on tight end Julius Thomas, that’s not an athletic mismatch like it would be for other teams using a safety on Thomas in man coverage. And cornerback Brandon Flowers on slot receiver Wes Welker is not a mismatch either. The Chiefs have played more snaps of dime defense than any other team in the NFL, and that will help this week.
There's also the issue of Peyton Manning's mobility and the pressure the Chiefs can put on him.
The Broncos have allowed more pressure the last few weeks. Left tackle Chris Clark and right tackle Orlando Franklin struggled to in one-on-one pass protection last week at San Diego. I can't speak about how Manning's ankle feels, but the extra pressure has made him play faster. It's noticeable; since the Colts game he is getting rid of the ball a little quicker and is more conscious of quick pressure.
This week he’s playing a team that for the most part this season has been creative with blitz concepts out of the dime package, with the press man coverage behind. The dime defense means you’re trying to get faster players on the field, and if you blitz you're doing so with better athletes.
The Broncos' offensive line is not terrific and Manning compensates for it with quick throws. He knows where to go with the ball. But I think that’s where the press man concepts that the Chiefs use could be an advantage.
Beating the read option
Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy had a great example last week of one effective way to defend the read option.
San Francisco ran a read option play last week, and Hardy simply baited 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Hardy's initial step was inside like he was going to crash down. That led to Kaepernick keeping the ball.
Hardy forced Kaepernick into that decision, then he immediately got upfield to keep Kaepernick from getting outside. He dropped Kaepernick for a 6-yard loss.
This is one way to play the read option. Another is to have a linebacker scrape over the top after the defensive end crashes in, so the quarterback can't cleanly get to the perimeter and has to contend with a linebacker, who is typically a better athlete than an end.
Teams are better equipped to defend the read option, which is why you’re not seeing it quite as much this year.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford is having a good year, and it's not being talked about that much. One reason for Stafford's big season is improved mechanics.
He’s always going to be one of those guys that’ll make some ill-advised throws, but he has been more consistent this year. When you don’t need to change your arm angle on a tough throw you shouldn’t. He’s been better in that area, for example.
Stafford may never become a precise thrower. He may miss some throws. But he also makes some throws that are just unbelievable.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.
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