Inside the Film Room: Containing Peyton Manning

Connor Rogers breaks down how the Jets can contain the Denver Broncos passing attack.

The struggling New York Jets defense faces their biggest challenge of the season yet in a week six match up at home vs. Denver. 38 year old quarterback Peyton Manning is right at the top of the league in terms of passing yet again. Young weapons on Denver, like tight end Julius Thomas is in line for a career year.

So, how will the Jets contain the high powered Denver passing attack? Let’s take a look…

To find the ideal game plan, I went back and watched what the Seahawks did against the Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl match up. Clearly Seattle’s defensive personnel is a top three unit in the league, but defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is as good as any coach in terms of game to game planning.

Getting off the field:

It’s 3rd and 5, with Denver at their own 41 yard line. The Seahawks are up 5-0 and a stop here gives them complete command of the game. The Broncos come out with a five wide set, similar to what many teams use against the Jets this year:
The Seahawks could go for the kill shot here by bringing a blitz (much like the Jets do on almost every third down this year), but instead they drop eight guys into coverage. The key to the entire play is dropping a defensive tackle into the middle (Sheldon Richardson or Muhammad Wilkerson are perfect for this role).

Manning knows the Seahawks will flood the field in a mix of man and zone coverages. He also knows he only needs five yards to keep the drive going and that he should have enough time against what looks like a basic four man rush. Except dropping the defensive tackle into the middle of the field not only floods the one soft spot Manning assumed, it slows down Julius’ route:

Now here is the coaches film view in which I drew my pre-snap defensive scheme off of:

Three takeaways from this design:

1) I’m a huge fan of keeping the corners in man coverage on the outside with heavy zone coverage on the inside. Welker and Julius Thomas are extremely tough to stay with across the middle of the field in one on one coverage. Flooding the short middle of the field with linebackers and a defensive lineman makes it harder for Manning to find open space to sling it short.

2) The Seahawks play a normal two safety look, but when the ball is snapped one plays high middle and the other plays the intermediate middle. The Jets have been playing Calvin Pryor single high, which is putting too much responsibility on the rookie. This forces him to command both of these roles the Seahawks players take on.

Leave Antonio Allen or Dawan Landry next to him and try the post-snap high/low look. Obviously the skill set and caliber of talent is on a completely different scale when comparing Pryor/Allen/Landry to Thomas/Chancellor but how many times can we see the rookie overwhelmed by coverage responsibilities when he is left entirely on his own deep down the field?

3) If the Jets want to pull out the upset, they will need a career game from defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. He has the most favorable match up for the Jets against Broncos interior lineman Manuel Ramirez, who can struggle in pass protection. If the Jets flood the field with seven or eight guys in coverage, the basic three or four man rush will have to make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket. Richardson has the power to do that.

Follow Connor Rogers: @CRogers_NFL