Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

Broncos Film Room: Why Denver's third preseason game will give offensive coordinators nightmares

Andre Simone Avatar
August 30, 2018

The beauty of the third preseason matchup is that teams actually scheme for the game, instead of simply playing in vanilla looks.

The most telling and interesting schematic revelation from the Broncos against the Washington Redskins were the few NASCAR looks Denver implemented, which—with their depth at outside linebacker—should be heavily featured in 2018.

Because of that, we went back to the tape to look at those few NASCAR sets, while also breaking down a bonus blitz package that produced a sack.

Mind you, all the NASCAR formations came in the same series, while the Redskins were trying to run a two-minute drill at the end of the half. Denver didn’t always create pressure, but they forced quick throws that ate up the clock.

Here we go.

Second quarter, look one

This was the first taste we got of the NASCAR formation in the game on 1st-and-10. As you can see below, the Broncos put Von Miller outside in his typical strong side linebacker spot, with Bradley Chubb lined up on the weak side with his hand in the ground and Shane Ray standing up right across from the Redskins left guard, with Derek Wolfe lined up across from the right guard.

In this particular instance, while the Broncos didn’t produce a sack, there were a few interesting things that occurred. For starters, Chubb and Ray crossed paths on a stunt, with the rookie running into a double team up the middle. On the opposite side, Miller was able to exploit a one-on-one opportunity with the right tackle, unleashing a spin move to get into the quarterback’s face.

Next play

Following an eight-yard completion from the Skins in the first play we analyzed, the Broncos lined up the same exact way pre-snap with the same exact personnel on the very next play.

This time, Ray and Chubb didn’t try any fancy stunts, and the results were much better. Chubb was able to come off the edge on the left tackle breaking into the backfield, while Ray busted through the A-gap splitting the center and guard to create pressure up the middle.

The real factor in this play is Von, who shoves the right tackle aside and quickly gets into the quarterback’s face, knocking him to the ground. 

Washington still got a completion off of soft coverage underneath, but the three edge rushers created a lot of pressure on this play by just lining up and taking care of one-on-one assignments.

The one let down in these first two plays was Wolfe, who was unable to create any push inside as Washington’s backup right guard, Kyle Kalis, handles him fairly easily.

Double stunt and monster hit

Once again, on the very next play, the Broncos came out in the same alignment but produced a very different result.

This time, the Broncos interior lineman went outside, while the edge defenders rushed inside on double stunts, a risky move on 1st-and-10 which Denver could only call in a two-minute drill at the end of the half.

Chubb tried to swallow up two blockers to free up Ray, but that action didn’t quite work out on the weak side, as the left tackle was quick to recover and get in front of Ray, who was operating on a delayed stunt.

The havoc occurred on the strong side, where, on another stunt, Wolfe quickly blew by the right guard, this time taking on the tackle, as well, while Miller, on a well-timed delayed stunt, ran past the guard who turned his back to him trying to recover on Wolfe. The result was a monster hit by Miller on Colt McCoy, knocking him on his backside. 

McCoy still got a completion but had to short arm the pass to the flats, burning valuable clock as his receiver was brought down in a hurry.

Note: On the very next down (2nd-and-8) Washington went with a quick completion as the Broncos had everyone attack their gaps straight up, much like the second play we analyzed. Hurried with the clock running down, McCoy threw an incompletion setting up the play below.

Chubb and Von sack

On 3rd-and-8, the Broncos put out different personnel, switching Wolfe with DeMarcus Walker and Ray with Shaquil Barrett.  

Much like the first play we analyzed, the weak side defenders crossed paths on a stunt, with Barrett quickly getting past the left guard, busting through his outside shoulder to take on the right tackle, which in turn freed up Chubb as he was coming inside on the stunt.

On the strong side, Walker quickly won the battle with the right guard and took on the center, freeing up Von for a one-on-one block on the edge.

Miller won inside on the right tackle, and before the right guard could try to help block him, 58 already had his hands on the QB. 

In the meantime, Chubb busted through the middle to hit McCoy low, as the Broncos pass rushing duo combined for a sack. Walker also did a nice job of getting in the backfield here, and played a crucial role in this play.

With this sack, the Broncos forced the punt and stopped the Redskins drive at their own 40-yard line.

Bonus blitz (or so it seemed)

Unrelated from the series we just mentioned, the Broncos had an interesting pre-snap look on 3rd-and-7 at the end of the third quarter.  

Out of a conventional four-man front, the Broncos showed a presnap look with the two middle linebackers stacked up on the line. Indicating a six-man blitz with double A-gap pressure.

Instead, the double-A gap blitz was a simple disguise, as Ray, like Miller in the previous plays, was gifted a one-on-one chance against the right tackle and came screaming off the edge to get the sack.

It wasn’t a NASCAR look, but it was nice to see Denver get creative in multiple obvious passing downs. 

In conclusion

In all the NASCAR formations, Miller was freed up for one-on-one looks against the right tackle, which is a win no matter what the outcome of the play may be. That’s the matchup the defense should be looking for on any obvious passing down, and it puts the offense in a position to choose if they’re going to dedicate an extra blocker to his side, or leave Von free to attack the right tackle by himself.

Furthermore, with the stunt looks where Von attacked inside, dedicating an extra blocker to the strong side wouldn’t even matter, as No. 58 can unleash a spin move inside, getting in the backfield at will.

It was also nice to see Chubb implemented on stunts—which we’ve written about quite a bit this offseason—where he was fairly dangerous, getting his first career sack this way. 

As fun and effective as the sequences were, we never even saw a true NASCAR look with all four edge rushers—Von, Chubb, Ray, and Shaq—on the field at the same time. Wait until that happens, and we’ll really have some fun.

In just five simple looks, the Broncos gave opposing offensive coordinators a lot to think about.

Rev up your engines, because Denver’s ‘D’ might have some magic in store this year. The back end just needs to do a better job stopping the pass or creating turnovers for the defense to truly dominate in similar situations once the regular season begins. 


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?