Part 2 of Jordan Plocher’s in-depth study of the Denver Broncos Red Zone efficiency. Click here to read Part 1
Denver Broncos Red Zone Carries
Montee Ball: 38 Carries, 132 Yards, 3.47 Avg, 4 TDs, 1 Fumble
Ronnie Hillman: 14 Carries, 68 Yards, 4.85 Avg, 1 TD, 2 Fumbles
Peyton Manning: 1 Carry, 1 Yard, 1.00 Avg, 1 TD
The Broncos use the run game to keep defenses honest and to exploit defenses that put too many guys into coverage. They don’t look for the run game to generate big plays. They just want the RB to get the yards the play is blocked for. Moreno has been effective as the primary back with a 4.33 average yards per carry and 10 TDs. The vast majority of run plays are between the Tackles. They use both zone and power runs. The majority of runs have no lead blocker unless it’s a short yardage situation. The high yards per carry average has more to do with Peyton Manning putting the RBs in advantageous situations than it does with the performance of the RBs.
Tendencies by Personnel Grouping
*Listed in order of preference
Glossary: X (WR), Z (2nd WR), W (3rd WR), Y (TE)
11 Personnel(1RB/1TE)- 221 Plays (80-Run,141-Pass)
This is the Broncos preferred personnel grouping by a wide margin. 11 Personnel was used on 77% of red zone snaps. However, if we remove the extra times the Broncos were in 12 Personnel due to the Welker injury the percentage of 11 Personnel snaps goes up to 89%.
Clearly the Broncos prefer to be in 11 Personnel. They want to spread you out with their 3-WR sets. Additionally, they will spread defenses out even further by frequently lining up their RB and TE out wide.
Approximately 63% of 11 Personnel plays are passes.
The main passing concepts that I saw repeated over and over again were either a front-side rub with a back-side levels concept or even more predominantly a front-side, high-low read with a back-side levels concept.
Approximately 75% of the time Peyton Manning is not under center.
Just because it’s 11 Personnel doesn’t necessarily mean that the RB will be lining up as a RB. The Broncos frequently line their RB out wide and go to a empty spread look.
The W or 3rd WR, usually in the slot, drew the most targets at 35. The TE or Y drew 30 targets. The patterns most heavily targeted were Out-25 times, Screen-15 times, Vertical-14 times.
There are two main styles of WR screens run out of a trips speed set (3-WR to one side). These two screen are either throws to an inside receiver running outside or throws to the outside receiver coming back inside under his blocks.
They will frequently use bunch sets and some of their releases are so complex they look like throwing stars, with people running in multiple crazy angles. This makes it hard to press their WRs.
12 Personnel(1RB/2TE)- 50 Plays (19-Run, 31-Pass)
These numbers are very misleading as they exaggerate the amount the Broncos would prefer to use 12 Personnel. Using 12 Personnel and lining up Tamme in the slot, was the predominant way that the Broncos adapted to Welker’s absence, when he was out injured. This grouping gave the Broncos a similar look to what they like to do, but with a Tight End in the slot instead of Welker.
As a result, the vast majority of 12 Personnel plays (13 Runs and 26 passes) were called when Welker was injured. In the 14.5 games with Welker in, only 5 passes were thrown from 12 Personnel. In the 3.5 games he missed, a total of 26 passes were thrown from 12 Personnel. When Welker was healthy 12 personnel was used a total of 11 times all year and the Broncos have not used 12 Personnel once the in red zone since Welker’s return.
23 Personnel(2RB/3TE)- 11 Plays (7-Run,4-Pass)
This is the Broncos short-yardage/goal line personnel package. The preferred play is an outside zone run. Half of the 23 Personnel passes feature play-action. All four passes were to one of the TEs.
13 Personnel(1RB/3TE)- 3 Plays (2-Run,1-Pass)
The pass was a fade to the X receiver.
22 Personnel(2RB/2TE)- 1 Play (1-Run)
The run was a lead run off tackle.
14 Personnel(1RB/4TE)- 1 Play (1-Pass)
This is the first time I have ever charted 14 Personnel on any team and in any game. I taught myself how to chart formations using an old Dick LeBeau playbook. 14 Personnel is so rare that a term doesn’t even exist for it in the Dick LeBeau playbook. I joked with Coach LeBeau about this and he laughed when I told him that I had to use his term “Poker” when charting this formation. “Poker” is a catch-all word for unusual offensive personnel in the LeBeau lexicon.
Super Bowl Predictions
From charting all of the Broncos red zone offensive plays, I offer the following Super Bowl predictions.
- Peyton Manning will offer an epic Super Bowl performance to close out a legendary season.
- The Broncos will win the Super Bowl and Peyton Manning will win the Super Bowl MVP.
- Peyton Manning will throw at least 3 TD passes, with Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Wes Welker each catching at least one.
- Julius Thomas and Wes Welker will each have TD catches in the red zone. Thomas most likely be targeted on a vertical route and Welker most likely targeted on an rub-action out route.
- The chunk plays will come from Demaryius Thomas. Thomas will score his TD from outside the red zone, most likely from breaking a short pass like a WR screen into a long gain.
If you want to see what the Seahawks do in the red zone, here is the link to my mid-season report. Mid-Season Seahawks’ Red Zone Report
You can find me on twitter @StarvingScout
Study Note: The reason I chart the red zone out to the 25 yard line and not the 20 is because I don’t know the exact moment an Offensive Coordinator actually goes to his red zone sheet. There are some scenarios when an Offensive Coordinator might be calling plays from his red zone play call sheet even though the ball might be spotted at the 21 or 22. Also some Offensive Coordinators consider the red zone from the 25 to the Goal Line on their sheets anyway, so I felt that charting out to the 25 would include more actual calls from the red zone sheet than if I stopped charting at the 20. Therefore, it would yield a more accurate representation of the Offensive Coordinator’s red zone play calling philosophy.