Stopping the Broncos

Posted: September 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 78 Comments »

The Eagles defense has a great challenge on Sunday. Stop Slow down Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense.

Denver has scored 49, 41 and 37 points. That’s 127 for the year. Just for the sake of comparison…the 1998 Eagles scored 161 points for the season. Yikes.

The Broncos offense is actually somewhat simple. They just happen to have a brilliant QB who can get the team into the right play almost all of the time. Manning is the best pre-snap QB in the league. Maybe ever. He also adjusts well after the snap. He’s going to have them in the right play or make the right adjustment within the play. That makes him brutally hard to stop.

Denver is the #1 passing team in the league. They’re closer to the middle when it comes to running the ball, but they still do that effectively. They just prefer to focus on the passing game due to Manning and the great set of receivers they have.

RAC yards are a huge part of the passing attack. Manning doesn’t like to take deep drop after deep drop. He wants to make life easy for his blockers. He wants to frustrate pass rushers. That means getting the ball out quickly and letting the receivers make plays for him. Denver is 2nd in the NFL with 581 RAC yards. The Eagles are 12th with 393.

Manning will throw deeper stuff, but a lot of the time it comes on play-action. That gets the LBs to bite up and opens some voids in the defense. It also affects the rushers, as they look for the RB. The play-action stuff works brilliantly because Manning is so good with his fakes. You don’t know when he’s handed off or kept the ball. That little detail is something that not nearly enough QBs work on.

While Manning mostly throws short and intermediate stuff, his arm has re-gained some strength and he can put the ball down the field with zip. He made a terrific throw early last week that I’m not sure he even would have attempted last year.

So what can the Eagles do in hopes of slowing down this juggernaut?

Tackle well – The easiest way to limit RAC yards is to tackle well. The Raiders missed several tackles last week and short throws would be extended by 5 or 10 yards. The Eagles know all about this with the Donnie Avery plays from the KC game.  The coaches had to stress after that game that players must get off blocks and rally to the ball to make stops. We’ll find out pretty quickly if the players responded.

Win up front – You’re not going to beat Peyton by blitzing. For every time you get pressure, there will be 3 or 4 plays where he burns you. The defense must get pressure through the 3 or 4 base rushers. This doesn’t mean you need a bunch of sacks. Just get Peyton to move off his spot and throw off-balance. That’s your best hope. Fletcher Cox needs to have a big game. Vinny Curry could be key with his ability to penetrate and get pressure up the middle. Cole, Barwin and Graham need to bring some heat off the edge. If these guys are handled, the Eagles have no chance. None.

Mix coverages – Ideally, you’d play bump and run all game long. That would slow the release of the receivers and affect the timing of the Broncos offense. The Eagles have big CBs who could do this, even against the Broncos big WRs. The problem is that you don’t want to let Peyton know what you’re doing on every play. You must mix man and zone so that it slows his brain down, even if just for a fraction of a second.

Play smart – You cannot extend drives with dumb penalties. You cannot have blown coverages. Manning and the Broncos are too good. You cannot help them. I think too many teams go into a situation like this and want to do so much that the players get sloppy. As Bill Davis alluded to in his PC, you must execute well. Do your job. If you try to be a hero vs Peyton, he’ll burn you. Simply execute the play as the coaches have it called and you’ve got a chance.

Be somewhat creative – Remember what Jim Johnson did vs the Pats in 2007? He came up with a creative gameplan. Chris Gocong saw time at DE. Jevon Kearse saw time at DT. Lito Sheppard followed Randy Moss all over the field. JR Reed was the FS and lined up 15 to 20 yards deep on almost every play. Jim wasn’t going to give the Pats any deep passes.

I hope Davis does some creative things. First, I think it excites the players. They like having the chance to do some unusual things. Second, you want to mix in a few looks that Peyton hasn’t seen. It isn’t going to fool him in a significant way. You just want to make him hesitate and think rather than firing the ball out quickly.

I’d love to see a 3-3-5 look with a 3-man DL of Graham-Curry-Cole. You dare Denver to run the ball.

I’d love to see the base defense with Cox-Thornton-Curry as the DL at times.

I’d love some 4-2-5 with a look of Graham-Curry-Cox-Cole.

Davis could also be creative and use Earl Wolff as a LB in some looks. Patrick Chung might be perfect for that role, but he’s been listed as doubtful for the game so that means he’s likely out. Why use Wolff? He is a good tackler. He’s comfortable playing in the box. He also would cover better than the other LBs we have.

If you want to be creative and confuse Manning, you must have some odd combinations and you must have players that can do different things. If Davis does mix in Graham and Cole at DE, he could try Casey Matthews at OLB. Matthews can blitz or cover. I know he’s nothing special, but if Manning sees him on the field, how does he read that? Is this a blitz or cover look? I can’t stress enough…you aren’t going to fool him. You just want to slow Peyton down. That gives the rushers an extra half-second to get pressure. That gives the DBs extra time to break on the ball.

The Jets beat Manning and the Colts in a Wild Card game after the 2010 season. Rex Ryan, known as a huge blitzer, changed up and focused on coverage. He played lots of DBs, having as many as 7 on the field in some looks. Manning was 18-26-225. The only Indy TD came on a 52-yard pass that involved mistakes by at least 3 Jets DBs. The Colts struggled to run the ball and get into the endzone.

The Eagles don’t have a great set of DBs to unleash on Manning and the Broncos, but there is something to be said for trying that idea. Manning can’t see DBs all over and instantly know what they’re going to do. The key to that is that the DL must control the LOS so that the running game doesn’t eat up the DBs.

Davis did mention that he studied Sean McDermott’s gameplan from 2010 and that he went back and studied some gameplans of his from the SF/ARZ days that had some success against Peyton. It will be interesting to see what he does and how well it works.

* * * * *

Many of you have asked about the podcast that Jimmy Bama and I do. I have wanted to do shows every week. Jimmy keeps delaying, saying that it is more important that he get his hair just right for the Philly.com videos.

I finally told him that if he doesn’t start doing shows I’ll tell everyone how his sister dominated him in fantasy football.

Oops.

We’re hoping to record a show on Saturday morning and then get back into a regular groove next week. The odd schedule to start the year just has had us totally thrown off kilter. The Eagles have a slew of Sunday games and that should help us get into a good flow.

If not, blame Jimmy.

_


  • http://FireFire.com/ Beavis

    just have nate allen come up and take out peytons knee, that’ll take out 2 birds with one stone.. peyton will be hurt and nate will more then likely be suspended.. hopefully for the rest of the season. thank me later.

    • ICDogg

      ..

      • http://FireFire.com/ Beavis

        .

  • Matthew Verhoog

    as a Canadian I’m used to getting blamed for everything so I sympathize with Jimmy. Is he getting to used to getting paid?

    • TommyLawlor

      Nah, it really is the schedule. Trying to review games, preview games and deal with regular news just eats up a lot of time when it isn’t there. Regular Sunday games will help us all get into a good groove schedule-wise.

      • Matthew Verhoog

        It’s weird getting this break from eagles football for awhile it seemed to be a game every other day

  • Daniel Norman Richwine

    I always knew the sudden fame would go to Jimmys head…

    • TommyLawlor

      I should never have told him he was up for a Pulitzer.

      • ICDogg

        It’s actually a Putzer prize.

  • Patrick

    Can we hire Tommy to be the DC? I really hope that you’re right Tommy, I want to see a lot of 4 man fronts, specifically a lot of Cole, Cox, Curry, Graham, Thornton and limit a lot of plays to only 2 LBs, primarily DeMeco as the leader and Barwin who I really like in coverage and against the run. I’m not overly fond of the notion of using a S as a LB, although I see the obvious advantage in having the mismatch being Welker against a S, rather than a LB. I like Barwin in coverage, but not against Welker. It also gives us the opportunity to play Boykin a lot, which he earned in my opinion.

    One thing I hope to see is offensive adjustments. I really liked the way Chip almost seemed like a masterful chess player with moves and countermoves to everything at Oregon. I didn’t see that against the Chiefs. We never changed the way we used DeSean, and come on, playing press coverage against him is hardly a unique and groundbreaking tactic. Avant and Cooper couldn’t et anything going and we never changed anything, that was a massive disappointment with versatile players like Ertz, Damaris and Casey on the bench. I know the pressure limited a lot of options, but it seems insane to me to stick with things that wasn’t working at all.

  • ICDogg

    http://www.itsalloverfatman.com/broncos/entry/digesting-the-eagles

    Broncos blog post with good writeup on the challenge in stopping the Eagles O

    • TommyLawlor

      Good link.

    • Anders

      yea. That guy really knows football and that play is only 1 play out of a few they have shown, but the principles are the same on all of them.

    • BlindChow

      That guy looks like he might be the Bronco’s version of Tommy…

  • scratcherk

    Hey Tommy, any thoughts on Saltveit’s observation that Curry has played exclusively LDE. As a result, playing Curry means taking Cox off the field?

    • TommyLawlor

      I don’t agree. Cox can play DT, NT or RDE.

      He and Curry may not have been on the field together last week, but I would bet that’ll change.

      • GEagle

        Yeah…doesn’t matter where curry plays because cox lines up all over the line. They will see the field together

  • SteveH

    So it’s Jimmy’s fault I had to listen to WIP today to get my eagles fix. I will not forget this!

    • TommyLawlor

      I am not going to incite angry readers…(yes it is totally his fault and you should make him pay for that).

      • SteveH

        Keemmmmpppsskkkiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!!

      • GvilleEagleFan

        Thanks for taking the time to update us (and send the torches and pitchforks in the correct direction). I knew it had to be the crazy schedule of games and that hack wanting to make a good impression at his fancy big-city job (/s).

        In all seriousness, I’ve been dying for the H2H show since the season started. You guys are the perfect blend of rational thought and fandom, letting me revel in the glory of a win and pulling me out of my post-loss stupor last year with great reasoned analysis. Keep up the great work!

        • A_T_G

          Just remember your eye protection. A good pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the light of the flame, the points of the pitchfork, and the cameras of law enforcement.

  • laeagle

    Interior pressure. That’s the only way to throw off the pocket passers like Manning and Brady. Be where he wants to step up into, be in the pocket. Collapse the pocket. The outside rush will get there sometimes but the release on Brady and Manning is too quick. You have to force the issue, up the middle. I’d expect a healthy dose of 4-2-5 mixed in there on Sunday.

    • TommyLawlor

      So true. Interior pressure really does throw them off. That’s why I’d love to see Cox at NT and Curry at 3-tech. You get power and quickness up the middle.

      • laeagle

        I’ve been wanting to say this ever since we drafted him: we need Cox in Manning’s face all day long.

        • anon

          I see what you did, even if you didn’t

  • Jamie Parker

    How about Wolff as a LB with Nate and Coleman as the safeties?

    • TommyLawlor

      Absolutely. Kurt will play if Chung is out, even if he’s only a role player. Kurt is a veteran so he should be able to step in and do a solid job.

      • ICDogg

        I don’t think he’s as bad as a lot of the fans think he is. He has limited ability but I think if used right he can do a reasonable job. We’ve seen some of our secondary lately go on to other teams and be better for them than they were for us. Like the kid from Temple, or Dmitri Patterson. Guys like Asante Samuel suddenly don’t look washed up. I think DRC is doing a good job so far.

        Anyway I think it means that our defensive scheme was a significant part of the problem with our secondary in the last couple of years. And maybe a guy like Coleman could actually be a decent reserve.

        • anon

          A shame we blew all that money and SB potential.

        • GEagle

          Scheme, coaching, locker room attitude….all contributed to our putrid defense in a big way….Which is why I’m so frustrated with “not so nasty” Nate…..I would deactivate Nate for a game and see what Coleman can do. Although with Chung out, I I don’t know that this would be the time to deactivate Nate…but it can’t be much worse than Nate, so might as well give some other guys a chance and see if the changes can help other guys! since it hasn’t done much for Nate

          • ICDogg

            Nate played a pretty good game vs KC. So who knows, maybe something is rubbing off on him after all.

  • GermanEagle

    49, 41, 37

    Don’t you notice the trend, Tommy?! The Broncos Scoring O is clearly in the decline.

    Eagles 32, Broncos 31

    • Anders

      Based on my math the Broncos will score 34, if they follow that trendline

      • GermanEagle

        You’re obviously not got at math.
        -8, -4, – 6
        I took the median: (-8-4)/2=-6

        • Anders

          I plotted the trendline in excel :P

          Also that is not the median, that is the mean :P big difference :)

          • A_T_G

            Yeah, really. The median would be the mean of the two middle values, so in this case… -6.

          • Anders

            It make no sense talking about the median of a set of 2 numbers.
            The median would be either -8 or -4, but sometimes people then take the mean of of the two middle values.

          • GermanEagle

            No matter how we spin this. Eagles are gonna win this. :)

          • Anders

            I take that :)

          • GermanEagle

            Same difference. ;)

        • A_T_G

          I think you are both taking an overly simplistic approach to a complicated sequence. Analyzing the data, clearly a regression equation is called for. I believe that a karmic-regression would be most appropriate, using a SB-squared multiplier, and skewing the prediction to match my FF expected values.

          Eagles 43, Broncos 1.

          I know 1 seems unlikely as a football score, but you just gotta trust the math sometimes.

          • GEagle

            “I was told there would be NO math”

          • GermanEagle

            Who told you this, Chippah?

          • GermanEagle

            Well played, sir.

    • SteveH

      If you follow the pattern however (-8,-4,0) the Broncos end up with 37, so we lose :(. It also means by the end of the season they’ll score 79 points in the finale! Remember math doesn’t lie.

      • Anders

        The pattern could also be -8-4-2. or could be -8-4-6 then -3. Several options :P

  • SteveH

    With Manning a big key is to throw things at him that you’ve never used before. He has an incredible memory (can recall exact formations etc. from years in the past) so if you give him something he’s seen before he’ll diagnose it quickly. Another big thing, and this is I think key for any defense that wants to blitz, is you have to convincingly disguise your blitzes. So many times when you’ve got guys standing up near the line of scrimmage you can tell pre-snap what they’re actually going to do, just based on their body posture. Our boys gotta have their poker faces on when we blitz, and don’t fall for the fake snap count!

    • BlindChow

      Are you allowed to stack defenders? I mean, literally on top of one another? Put Boykin on top of Geathers, and have Geathers fling him at Manning at the snap. It’ll give new meaning to the phrase, Fly, Eagles, Fly…

      • anon

        the flying b

  • A_T_G

    I don’t know, Tommy. I am usually pretty supportive of your work, but this post feels like you are just recycling content. Mixing fronts, shifting personnel? This has already been covered: http://eaglesblog.net/2013/09/creative-solutions/

  • GEagle

    Roughing up Peyton is our only chance. If they don’t hit him hard and often, then we stand no chance…linebackers can not try to time their snap count because they will end up tipping their hand like they did against rivers slow count..and if we tip our hand Peyton will shred us. LBs need to line up neutral, stand still until the ball is snapped, and then explode into their blitz.
    ..
    I thought we were getting a versatile coach who will make adjustments according to the games..But Like Ried, Chip wants to win “HIS way” and that is very dissapointing to me. We won’t try to play ball control, we won’t try to keep Peyton off the field by using a slow play clock and it’s making me not even want to watch this weeks game. I get that Chip wants to score as fast as he can, keep the Peddle to the metal, but that approach is friggin RETARDED when that puts Peyton on the field against our defense…stubborn, we are going to win “my way” at all costs thinking…dissapointing. I wish our coach wouldn’t need to learn things the hard way

    • Neil

      Football is a game about scoring more points per possession. Sure, you can manage time well at the end of the halves to get 1 or 2 more than your opponent, but you aren’t going to score more than Peyton by holding onto the ball. If the hurry up helps your scoring efficiency, you use it against everyone. If your offense sucks bad enough for your defense to get exhausted, you weren’t going to win no matter how slow you went.

  • Ark87

    I’m holding out hope that Peyton woke up this morning and realized his true passion is selling pizzas, and will retire, immediately.

    • BlindChow

      He is very good at it.

    • Ben Hert

      I always enjoyed the fact that, within a month of Colorado passing recreational marijuana use laws, Peyton bought 15 Papa John’s in the state. Well played.

      • Ark87

        that’s so awesome hahaha

  • BlindChow

    I’m not too worried about our defense. I can’t say I expect them to hold up too well, and that’s okay (no one really does against Peyton). What would kill me is to see the find-a-way-to-lose turnover machine sabotage any chances of winning, like it did vs. KC. This could end up looking like a Rams or Jaguars game…

    • BlindChow

      Speaking of which, Rams vs. Jaguars in two weeks. The Teddy Bridgewater game…

      • GermanEagle

        The Rams are not that bad to be in the run for Teddy’s sweepstakes. I think I saw some Jaguars Bridgewater jerseys on sale already…

        • BlindChow

          The Rams have looked awful the last couple weeks. Did you see Thursday’s game? Yikes. I guess that’s what happens when you pull an offensive coordinator off the Jets’ scrap heap…

          • Anders

            I think the Rams should blow the Jags out. The Jags are just terrible. Worse than the 0-16 Lions or 1-15 Dolphins from a few years ago

          • anon

            Poor GB, things probably looked so rosy in that eagles preseason game.

          • GermanEagle

            Yes, I did see the game in which the Eagles wouldn’t probably have looked much different against the Niners.

            Anders is right, the Jags are the worst team in the NFL, and it’s not even close.

          • anon

            no way, we have a way better offense, rams had like 2 yards rushing the whole game.

          • GermanEagle

            I meant to say the final result probably wouldn’t be much different. Or do you really think the Eagles would win against the 49ers?

          • BlindChow

            I’d say the Eagles would end up with more than 11 points. The Rams gained 7 yards in the 3rd quarter. They were terrible. I actually think the Jags game will be a toss-up.

          • GermanEagle

            Alright, the Eagles may have a chance against the Niners, actually a better chance than against the Broncos. However I don’t really think the Rams are as bad as the Jags. I don’t even think St Louis will pick in the top 8 next year.

          • BlindChow

            I think they will pick in the top 8 twice!

          • anon

            Depends on which eagles show up. Right now SFs pass game is pretty limited, their best pass rushers are out. The Rams have given up like 400 rushing yards in two games, to backs not nearly as good as mcshady. I think we could win if we were clicking and not turning the ball over a ton / killing ourselves with stupid penalties. But maybe I have to accept that that’s who we are.

  • bsuperfi

    In the long term, this matchup may be a really good thing for the defense. If we’re forced to play a decent amount of standard nickel with our best pass rushers on the field (the Graham, Cox, Curry, Cole line), we may actually get some pressure. If we get some pressure, we may see better players on the field more as the season wears on (and even after that if there’s any consistency).

    It’s clear we need better talent across the defense, especially for running a 3-4. But in this league, being able to lean on a good 4 man pass rush is invaluable no matter what defense you run.

  • P_P_K

    “If not, blame Jimmy.”

    Sometimes in sports when you are a huge underdog, you end up playing with an incredible degree of passion because you have nothing to lose. You’re able to find your zone, play at a high degree, and catch your opponent by surprise. This is how the Eagles might pull off an upset. If not, refer to the above quote. I consider it the official standby in all situations for Iggles Blitz Nation.

  • T_S_O_P

    If the Eagles are to win this, it will because of Points after Turnovers, to quote the Chipster

  • bridgecoach

    I think the focus will be more on speeding Payton up, rather than slowing him down. Pressure, but disrupt the timing of the receivers off the line. The offense will put the ball back in Paytons hands a lot; and scheme to contain his receivers, pressure the QB, and hope he doesn’t have much left in the tank by the 4th quarter.

    • Patrick

      Why would we focus on speeding up Sean Paytons Saints offense, when we’re playing the Broncos? Shouldn’t we at least game plan for Peyton Manning? I guess we could also find out how we would have stopped Walter Payton if we played him, but it nots like the coaches are sitting in the meeting rooms talking about boobs and the Higgs Particle from thursday to sunday, they are already working pretty hard. It seems very inefficient to prepare for anything other than the opponent for the next game.

  • shah8

    Oh, gawd, some people (mostly outside of iggleslandia) need to take a deep breath. Peyton Manning isn’t the god of QBs, and he’s not nearly as good as he used to be. The scheme is good, and Denver’s set of WRs is excellent. That story has more to do with Denver’s success on offense than a QB that definitely knows what he’s doing and putting his players in a position to succeed with favorable matchups. At the end of the day, Manning’s age, lack of athleticism/arm are serious liabilities. Seattle, for example, should be able to crush this Denver offense on a good day. They have the physical CBs and good safeties/coverage LBs such that Manning would actually have to make hard throws. I think Denver manages to outscore the Chiefs, though. Alex Smith is a tremendous liability, regardless of his nice win-loss record.

    Denver’s success and accolades have primarily been a function of opening day yips on the part of Baltimore, and two really rather hapless and pass rusherless defenses in the Giants and Raiders.

    If I were a betting man, I really would take the Eagles here, because it’s a much more fair gamble than normal with a decent payoff. This will be the most potent offense Denver has seen, and on a good day, perfectly capable of winning a shootout. What you’re really gambling on is whether the Eagles are turnover prone or not. There are two games to one that sez not. Not enough data to be sure, but… If the game is competitive, and I think it will be competitive, the most dangerous quarter for the Eagles will be the third.

    • Denverite

      “What you’re really gambling on is whether the Eagles are turnover prone or not.”
      Oh please. Denver’s only loss in the last calendar year came in their worst game during the calendar year. Against the eventual Super Bowl champion. And even that took two overtimes, super-crappy coaching decisions, and arguably the worst blown coverage in the history of the NFL.
      Peyton Manning was the best QB in the NFL last year. He’s been the best QB in the NFL this year. (He’s actually had the best start of the season of any QB in NFL history, but whatevs.) Any talk of his “serious liabilities” is as delusional as criticizing LeBron James because he’s only a good three-point shooter, and not an elite one.
      Can Philadelphia win? Sure. As the Ravens showed last January, a good offense can have a good game, the Broncos can have a bad game, and the Eagles could win in a 41-38 squeaker. But if the Broncos even play just OK, they’ll win by 10+ no matter how many turnovers the Eagles have, or how well they play on offense.

    • Cafone

      If you were a betting man you’d be a broke man. Eagles are getting around 12 points.