In the first installment of Film Review Friday, we’re going to take a look at the undefeated Denver Broncos and the possible game plan to finally add a loss to their record.
Make no mistake, this team is completely stacked from top to bottom with their vaunted defense leading the way. If the Atlanta Falcons are to win this game, there will have to be key contributions on both sides of the ball along with an overall team effort. Defeating a team such as the Denver Broncos won’t be easy, but with a good game plan and execution, a win could be on the horizon.
Previewing the Broncos defense
Wade Phillips is one of the best defensive coordinators of his time, and with good reason. Wherever he goes, his defenses are consistently at the top of the pack. One of the main reasons for that is his aggression. Despite the talent upfront (Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, and Shane Ray to name a few), he doesn’t hesitate to disguise blitz concepts to pressure the QB at every turn.
Case and point: This is a Cover 1 man concept as Phillips calls a blitz , and he did this quite a bit. To do this, a defensive coordinator must have complete trust in his secondary to play man with a single high safety, especially with the Wide Receivers that Tampa Bay has. Well, guess what? He has some talented Defensive backs, and he won’t hesitate to put them on an island to put as much pressure on the QB as possible.
As a Defensive coordinator, how do you stop an offense that has as much versatility at the skilled positions as the Falcons do? You affect the person that’s getting them the ball. So, expect that defense to be VERY aggressive in pressuring Matt Ryan.
How do you game plan against a defense as aggressive as this? Expect to see many different personnel groupings from Shanahan to give that defense different looks every time. It goes without saying that the run game should get going, but that won’t be an easy task. Why? Again, Phillips has no qualms about leaving his CB’s on an island and use some Cover 1 man concepts to stack the box. Also, this defense SWARMS to the ball in the run game, so the Offensive line will definitely have to show up. Also expect to see some screens and quick passes to attempt to neutralize that rush. Phillips leaves the middle of the field open due to his aggression, so that will be attacked also.
The biggest aspect of this game against the Denver Broncos defense will be matchups. Shanahan will certainly attempt to get favorable matchups and get as many of his playmakers involved as possible, as I’m sure we’ll see a ‘2 man’ concept run on Julio Jones from time to time (Safety over the top to bracket him). So expect to see some ’21’ (2 Running Backs, 1 Tight End), 12( 1 Running Back , 2 Tight Ends) and ’13’ (1 Running Back, 3 Tight Ends) personnel groupings to try to exploit some matchups as well as mass protect from the many blitzes Ryan will see.
Previewing the Broncos Offense
Under Gary Kubiak, we’re going to see some VERY familiar aspects of the offense. Kubiak uses a west coast offense that utilizes a ZBS(Zone Blocking scheme). Like Shanahan, Kubiak likes to mix up his personnel packages, run well and feature his number one weapon, which is Demaryius Thomas.
Although this is an incomplete pass, Kubiak has ’10’ personnel (1 RB, 4 WR) to stretch the field and force a ‘dime’ package to create favorable matchups. The reason why this play failed is what the Atlanta Falcons will need to do to even remotely stay in this game: Pressure the Quarterback!! Here, he was forced out of the pocket due to a good rush. There were open receivers, but the Quarterback can’t connect if he’s running for his life.
Game plan against the Offense? The Atlanta Falcons need to be sound with their gaps and defend the run well, first and foremost. That includes improved tackling as we’re starting to see a progression there. The Falcons also HAVE to pressure the QB. If they’re not getting home with 4, it will be time to start calling some A gap and corner blitzes to affect the QB. Also expect to see Desmond Trufant mirror Demaryius Thomas as he’s been doing well against the team’s number one receiver.
In order to win this game, the Falcons must play a COMPLETE game. That means that the errors(penalties, turnovers) must be limited, game plan sound and execution on point. The Falcons also need to see solid games on both sides of the trenches. How the offensive and defensive lines perform in this game will be a true tell of how this game will turn out. This will be a difficult task for sure and a lot will have to go right, but it’s possible to get a win.