Happy Friday, friends. For years, even when it seemed like I was the only guy out in the wilderness, I’ve maintained that Alex Smith can play QB well enough to win a Super Bowl.
The last two seasons, as he’s had some consistency in coaching for the first time in his career, he’s looked a lot like I was right. Now, all of a sudden, after his only bad game in two seasons last week, and one ill-advised throw last night, people are starting to say it’s time to dump him in favor of Colin Kaepernick.
It’s a bye week for the Broncos, so I just decided to run with this topic, because I think it’s absurd. If you watched the game between Seattle and San Francisco last night, I’d question your grasp on reality if your takeaway was that Smith struggled. If you didn’t see the game, and you just looked at the numbers- sure, they’re pretty average looking.
On Friday, I wrote that the Patriots' alleged "blueprint" for beating the Broncos was really a blueprint for beating any defense in the NFL. I didn't think it all the way through, though, and an important point was left out.
The one-word fast running game only works when it's quiet enough for Tom Brady to call out that one word. At Seattle yesterday, the Patriots couldn't play as fast, because Brady had no ability to communicate the play as quickly as he could at home.
CenturyLink Field is the loudest outdoor stadium in the NFL, and Brady may have an easier time in stadiums with less noise. But for the moment, I'm going to say that the one-word run game is only something New England can consistently rely upon at home.
Happy Friday, friends. Today, I’m going to respond to an excellent question posed by longtime reader DCJ1 in the comments from yesterday's article:
Any time a football team has a good day against another football team, media types always seem to like to proclaim that a “blueprint” was found for beating the losing team. This is primarily a product of the media guys not understanding football very well, and arrogantly thinking that because they saw something that they hadn’t thought of, the coaches must not have realized that an up-tempo running game may be successful. They also wrongly assume that what the Patriots did would be easily replicated.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’m still feeling good after the Broncos blew out the Raiders, and I’ve been thinking about ideas on defending the Patriots. Expect some words and maybe pictures on that topic later in the week.
For today, I wanted to talk generally about route-running technique. Every receiver who gets drafted into the NFL is within a certain range in the areas of size, speed, quickness, and catching ability. There’s a range of variance on talent, but it’s not really all that wide. What really separates receivers in the NFL, when you look at their ability to affect an overall game, is technique.
In my last job, I was a controller for a business within Xerox that sold custom learning solutions to large businesses. A lot of the people I worked with had Master’s degrees and PhD’s in the area of adult learning. There’s a lot of research done, and theories derived, and models built in the service of understanding how adults learn, and how to best improve their performance.
Every time you turn around, somebody is reminding you that the NFL has become a passing league. Through a combination of offense-friendly rule changes, innovative passing concepts, and vastly improved QB coaching at the high school and college levels (not to even mention the excellent private tutoring out there), passing offenses in the NFL are better and more efficient than ever.
I agree wholeheartedly that passing rules in the NFL. It’s easy to hear that, and read it, and conclude that the running game doesn’t really matter, though, and that’s not the case. In fact, I would say that the ability to be very sound in run defense is the most important factor in defending the pass.
That may be tough to get your head around, but let’s explore the idea, by first beginning with offense. The offense is going to do something, and all 11 guys generally know what that something is. The defense is reading keys, and trying to figure out what it will be, but they never really know until the play is underway. This is the fundamental advantage of the offense.
Embed this thought - you can lose games just as easily on defense by failing to stop the run, as you can by failing to stop the pass. The reason for that is because failure to stop the run very often causes failure to stop the pass.
Happy Football Monday, friends. Because I’m a swell guy, I decided to write a quick article about pass coverage relating to tonight’s game between the Broncos and the Falcons. As we saw last week, the Chiefs got lit up, and I’m going to talk about why that happened, and what the Broncos should (and certainly will) do better.
In Week 1, the Chiefs were without their best CB Brandon Flowers, and their best pass rusher Tamba Hali. That puts you at a disadvantage against a team with good passing weapons from the jump, especially a team like Atlanta, whose protection weakness at LT went unexploited. The Chiefs were also seemingly very worried about the Atlanta running game, and they played eight in the box quite a bit.
If you’re dropping the eighth man, you basically have two choices of coverage shells. If you want to play zone, you can use a three-deep shell, and if you want to play a lot of man-to-man, you can used a one-deep shell. The Chiefs chose the latter option a week ago, mostly using a very deep single-high safety, and man-to-man coverage.
Happy Friday, friends. We've been telling you for a while how awesome access to all-22 coaches film would be, and I can now confirm, it's pretty awesome.
For those who aren't subscribers, allow me to briefly explain how it works. There's no sound, and for each play, you get a high sideline view that includes all 22 players. Following that, you get a tight view from behind the QB.
What that allows you to do is to watch the downfield action of a play (receivers and secondary), and then watch the backfield action (pass rushers, QB, RB) for the same play. So, if I want to gauge the effectiveness of the passing scheme, I can watch the route combination against the coverage for a play, and then watch the protection for the same play.
In the Steelers game, I was impressed with how well the Broncos protected Peyton Manning, and I was interested to see the difference in methodology from last season. With Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow (a slow mover and a slow thinker), the Broncos almost always used at least six men in protection, and often, it was seven. With Manning, the Broncos mostly kept five men in, and sent five men out into the pattern. The use of extra blockers was quite limited, actually, and it speaks to their confidence in Manning recognizing the rush scheme, and getting the ball out quickly to the open player.
A new way of playing offense has come to Denver, one that’s new to us, anyway. When they went without a huddle Sunday night, the Broncos became unstoppable.
When you combine the brilliance of Peyton Manning with the altitude of Denver, you’re cooking with gas when you can sustain no-huddle drives. I’m not in complete agreement with Doug’s article from Monday, and I want to give you a slightly different take. First, I want to clarify the no-huddle, and second, I want to touch on some strategic offensive thinking.
I want everybody to understand the no-huddle better than it’s presented to them by the average talking head on TV. There’s a significant amount of misunderstanding about the no-huddle, so let’s start with three key points, to level-set the discussion:
1. The no-huddle offense is not the same thing as the hurry-up offense. Going without a huddle allows an offense to snap the ball quickly, but it doesn’t require it to do so. When an offense plays hurry-up, it will usually go without a huddle, but going without a huddle gives the QB wide latitude on when to snap the ball. Peyton Manning often waits until the play clock runs down, and I’ll explain why shortly.
Happy Tuesday, friends. Today, we get to the interesting and original part of this series about the Bartlett Defense, as we discuss coverage concepts. At its core, this defensive idea is about reducing the efficiency with which offenses throw the football. A lot of evidence indicates that championship teams throw well and stop the pass well, so I conceived this scheme with that priority in mind.
Before we get started, let’s put out the links to prior parts of this series, in case you’re just joining us, or you want to refresh your memory:
Happy Friday, friends. We’ve gotten to Part 4 of the series about the Bartlett Defense, and unfortunately, I find myself a little handicapped. The computer that can do my nice play graphics is still on a truck somewhere, so you’ll just have to roll with me as I do the best I can in that department.
Today, we come to concepts and rules for run defense. If you’re just joining us, or want to refresh your memory, please see the following links:
Let’s start by leveraging some knowledge that most of us have about gaps and defensive line techniques. There are some naming methodologies for this that are slightly different, and in fact, mine and TJ’s differ. No way is wrong, but since I think the world revolves around me, we’re going to use mine. Peep this graphic that I’ve used in the past: