Last week was a perfect negative storm for the Denver Broncos, and the Colts took advantage of it.
It started with the poor pass protection of the Broncos' offensive line. That affected Peyton Manning in a few ways. Then the receivers struggled to win against a predominant man coverage defensive scheme, which threw off the offense.
The offensive line is now a weakness for the Broncos, especially at the tackle position. Left tackle Ryan Clady is out for the season, and right tackle Orlando Franklin was inactive (he could return this week against Washington). Louis Vasquez moved from right guard to start at right tackle. Denver's line was consistently overwhelmed by quicker and faster Colts defensive line.
The Colts didn't scheme to get pressure on Manning. They relied almost exclusively on four-man defensive line pressure, with very few called blitzes on Manning's 53 drop backs. And the Colts' ability to generate pressure and close down the pocket had Manning playing a little fast as the first half progressed. As a result, Manning wasn't as sharp as he has been, in terms of ball placement.
In coverage, the Colts clearly felt comfortable with their outside corners Vontae Davis and Greg Toler or Cassius Vaughn matching up man-to-man. Their safeties predominantly focused inside in more of a “quarters” two-deep shell. That slowed Denver's offense down.
Manning made some great throws in the fourth quarter as he almost brought Denver all the way back. But overall, the Colts played Denver very well in the win, without too many wrinkles in their scheme.
Redskins' offense changing back
Denver's opponent this week, Washington, is running the same offense as it ran in 2012 before Robert Griffin III got hurt.
The pistol formation returned as the crux of the Redskins offense. Last week against Chicago they got almost 72 percent of their yards out of the pistol, at 9.9 yards per play. There were 36 snaps out of the pistol – 18 in one-back, and 18 in two-back. That was almost half of their plays.
Here was the breakdown in the running game: The Redskins had 27 runs out of Pistol for 183 yards, 6.8 yards per rush. They had 135 yards on 18 carries in two-back pistol and 48 yards and three touchdown on nine carries out of the one-back pistol.
It was successful, and should continue to be a big part of the offense.
McCown plays well
The Bears are on bye this week, but Josh McCown will be their quarterback for at least a few weeks after the bye because of Jay Cutler's injury. And McCown played pretty well in relief of Cutler against Washington last week.
He threw the ball with velocity and accuracy and made some plays with his legs. He had some very accurate immediate throws in the fourth quarter.
The only drawback was McCown had some frenetic running tendencies. He showed little patience in the pocket, and in doing so he left some throws on the field.
Dalton has a big game
Against Detroit last week, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton made some big strides.
Dalton did an excellent job getting the ball out of his hands quickly, and it was almost always to the right receiver. Dalton was very efficient with his reads and throws. He was really mentally sharp in that game.
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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.