Bengals Film Study: The Broncos’ Defense Looks to Confuse and Hurry Dalton
By Shawn Maher
Broncos Cover 2
The Broncos often show a Cover 2 shell look. When they stay in it they employ a healthy dose of man coverage, utilizing Bailey’s still outstanding coverage skills. Bailey might not run the 4.28 forty that he blazed in his rookie scouting combine, but he can still run.
But the Broncos often use a Cover 2 shell look to disguise their actual intentions. They showed a couple wrinkles against the Saints.
Bailey Aligned at Free Safety
In this Cover 2 look, Bailey is aligned at safety on the isolated receiver side. The post route managed to split the safeties, but was unsuccessful due to an errant throw under pressure.
In this look, Champ Bailey is aligned at the safety position toward the bottom of the screen. Against a 3×1 formation, Bailey is looking to protect against Marques Colston in isolation down the field. The other safety is aligned over the bunch side of the formation.
When isolated in a bunch formation, Bailey and the Broncos will likely align in a similar technique to bracket Green. In order to protect against the shorter routes that Jay Gruden often sends out of the bunch side, in order to take advantage of the off coverage the defensive backs are forced to use. A safety usually is more adept at open field tackling, and any wide receiver screen would be better defended.
In this formation Darren Sproles is in the bunch side. With Cincinnati’s own diminutive playmaker, Andrew Hawkins, able to make plays in space a safety down low makes sense.
Rolling the Safety Down
Often in a Cover 2 shell, the Broncos will roll down a safety and play Cover 3. In this play, the safety is rolling down to cover the slot receiver to compensate for the Miller blitz. With two excellent coverage linebackers in Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan, the Broncos can afford to play the 3-3-5 defense even against a spread formation.
The Broncos look like they are in a Cover 2 shell, but roll down a safety into their actual single-high safety coverage.
Bailey, circled on this play, is aligned to give himself inside leverage against the outside receiver. With only a single high safety, the cornerback uses the sideline as a sort of safety to limit what his receiver can do. If there were going to be two high safeties, the cornerback would funnel the receiver inside towards the safety help.
Dalton will key on this to help decipher the defense, but, like Willy Wonka said, there are “surprises around every corner.” If the Bengals want to jump start the passing game, then Dalton will have to be outstanding before and directly after the snap.
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