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FringeNC
12-10-2005, 12:40 PM
Teams will try to force Plummer to beat them
By Gary Horton
Scouts Inc.

As the Denver Broncos' running game goes, so goes Jake Plummer. And for Plummer to continue to be successful this season, the running game can't be just adequate -- it needs to be great.

The Cardinals gave Plummer free rein in Arizona to run their offense and go out and win games. The results were mixed -- there were a lot of turnovers, a lot of falling behind, a lot of comebacks and a lot of mediocrity.

Coach Mike Shanahan and the Broncos have taken a different approach. They know they can't count on Plummer to win games week in and week out. Even compared with last year, Denver's passing game has been simplified. Shanahan wants Plummer to manage the game, not win it, and for that to happen, the running game must be superb.

Plummer's best attributes are his athleticism and mobility. Although some film study reveals he doesn't bootleg and roll out as much as you think, the very threat of his doing so helps the running game. Because Plummer can bootleg either way, both defensive ends have to be aware of the backside on running plays. This slows their pursuit along the line and means one less defender attacking the ball carrier.

Even when Plummer does roll out, he has enough athleticism to buy time and avoid the weakside defensive end with pump fakes or with his speed.

When Plummer is on the move, he can slice up an attacking defense. It becomes a playground-style game in which, if the coverage attacks him, he'll throw and, if they sit back, he'll run. The Broncos' receivers and tight ends run a lot of crossing routes to every level of the defense (short, intermediate, deep), and because he is reading only half the field, Plummer easily can make a decision and complete the pass.

Over the past few weeks, defenses have adjusted how they've played Plummer on the rollout. Instead of attacking, they're playing more contain. They want him to force throws and not have easy decisions.

Plummer has improved his blitz awareness from the pocket, still the launching point for the majority of his throws. Whereas in years past Plummer might try to force a throw or not read the blitz very well, he is making the appropriate reads this year, throwing the check downs and, if needed, either throwing the ball away or taking a sack. Again, this is the transition he has made from a do-it-all quarterback to a game manager.

Most of the throws Plummer makes are hitches and short crossing routes. Wide receiver Rod Smith is as good as anyone at finding openings in zone coverage, and WR Ashley Lelie and tight end Jeb Putzier have become more comfortable with Denver's system.

The Broncos also use a lot of max protection for Plummer. Reading a defense and going through progressions are not Plummer's strong suits, but when there are only two men going into routes, that task becomes easier.

Teams are starting to realize this a little more, as well. The Broncos still will take two or three shots downfield per game to keep the defense honest, usually when Plummer thinks he has single coverage. In the game against the Patriots, Plummer burned cornerback Duane Starks a few times on deep balls when he had single coverage. However, against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, Plummer was baited by Terence Newman to throw the deep ball, which resulted in a momentum-swinging interception.

That interception snapped a club-record streak of 229 passes without one. However, film study shows that even during that streak, Plummer was making three or four throws a game that were up for grabs or could have been interceptions. Although his mistakes were fewer, he also was getting away with those mistakes.

What happened to the Denver offense this past Sunday against Kansas City was that the Chiefs took away the Broncos' running game. Plummer is much more effective in third-and-short situations. He can make his pre-snap reads, know where his receivers will be on hitch and crossing routes, and make the throw. On third-and-5 or longer, Plummer's efficiency diminishes. He is forced to make more reads, go through his progressions and make accurate throws. Because the Broncos were bottled up more than they were used to on first and second down, the Chiefs were able to take Plummer out of his comfort zone.

Every team from here on out will look to take away Denver's running game. It's going to be up to Shanahan and Plummer to continue to mix in the short passing game with the run early in games to keep the opposition honest. Then, as the game wears on, they hope their running game eventually will take its toll on the opposition.

If Denver meets San Diego, Cincinnati or Indianapolis in the playoffs, it will be interesting to see whether it will be able to hang in a shootout. That's not the type of game Shanahan, Plummer and the Broncos want.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN Insider.

morphius
12-10-2005, 01:27 PM
Plummer was making three or four throws a game that were up for grabs or could have been interceptions

I have been saying this for about a month now, good to see it in print somewhere elese.

Chiefs Pantalones
12-10-2005, 01:32 PM
I have been saying this for about a month now, good to see it in print somewhere elese.

Me too.

During that streak when Plummer had no interceptions for so long, he had like four a game that should have been picked, but lucked out that the defenders dropped them.

morphius
12-10-2005, 01:35 PM
Me too.

During that streak when Plummer had no interceptions for so long, he had like four a game that should have been picked, but lucked out that the defenders dropped them.
That and the fact that people are starting to play the bootleg better are the things that can give one hope that they are about to fall on their butt.

tk13
12-10-2005, 02:15 PM
Yeah he hasn't changed, you could just see that as they were winning. As long as they can run the football like that it lets Plummer run around and do his thing. And he's very good at running around and slinging the football, no doubt about that. But we got him to stick in the pocket and make throws to beat you... he's just average when you do that. That's why despite what some of these analysts think, I don't think they're the best matchup with the Colts at all... the Colts will just crash the ends and drop everybody back in that zone like they always do and force Plummer to be a pocket QB. That's why they've gotten destroyed in the playoffs the last few years.

Chiefs Pantalones
12-10-2005, 02:23 PM
Yeah he hasn't changed, you could just see that as they were winning. As long as they can run the football like that it lets Plummer run around and do his thing. And he's very good at running around and slinging the football, no doubt about that. But we got him to stick in the pocket and make throws to beat you... he's just average when you do that. That's why despite what some of these analysts think, I don't think they're the best matchup with the Colts at all... the Colts will just crash the ends and drop everybody back in that zone like they always do and force Plummer to be a pocket QB. That's why they've gotten destroyed in the playoffs the last few years.

Yeah, I don't see any difference in the Broncos defense either in these last few years. Manning will drop 400 on them if they meet in the playoffs. Their secondary is not good at all, IMO.

Chiefs Pantalones
12-10-2005, 02:25 PM
If Dante, Parker, and Kennison ran through their secondary free as birds this past Sunday, imagine what Wayne, Harrison, and Stokley will do to them.

Mile High Mania
12-10-2005, 02:38 PM
Anyone that thought Plummer had turned a corner this year was being silly. I think he has played smarter and that has helped him, but to say he had "4 a game" that should have been picked is absurd. There were near misses that should have been picked off, but not that many.

The other thing hurting their passing game is Lelie showing people that they were right when people said he wasn't first round talent. Lelie hasn't been the player he should have been this season and Rod continues to be the only consistent threat.

I like the production from the RBs, but I don't like RBBC.

Defensively, the D line has been better, but they're getting into stretches of not getting to QB and as a whole they suck at sacking the QB. The LBs and safetys are fine. I like the CBs, but when you have a lot of rookies running around, shit is going to get mixed up. Just look at last week when they were using the miscommunication excuse. I thought it was odd to just let Walls go once he got healthy, esp since he was a veteran.

Overall, I like this team much better than in years past, but some of the same things from last year seem to be creeping up. The DBs getting burned and inconsistent pressure on the QB.

The fact that nobody other than Rod is stepping up sucks and it's disappointing when I see what Lelie had done the last couple of years. The guy has the talent, I just question his determination.

Everyone will blame Jake and that's fine, it's easy to do, but I don't think he's holding them back right now. There have been many times lately when he has made clutch plays.

I don't think there's anyway that the AFC title game isn't featuring Indy vs Bengals, that's just my honest opinion.

FringeNC
12-10-2005, 02:41 PM
I don't think there's anyway that the AFC title game isn't featuring Indy vs Bengals, that's just my honest opinion.

You guys are better than the Bengals, as is San Diego, and probably we are too. Cincy has a 2002-2004 Chiefs' D.

alanm
12-10-2005, 02:45 PM
That and the fact that people are starting to play the bootleg better are the things that can give one hope that they are about to fall on their butt.
The Ravens defense is good enough to stop Denver. Just hope their offense is able to score a couple of TD's.
Raven's have had the Bronco's number for a few years now. I just hope it continues tomorrow. :thumb:

Mile High Mania
12-10-2005, 02:47 PM
The Ravens defense is good enough to stop Denver. Just hope their offense is able to score a couple of TD's.
Raven's have had the Bronco's number for a few years now. I just hope it continues tomorrow. :thumb:

The Ravens with a good Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, etc have had Denver's number... This Baltimore team isn't good at all.

Offensively, the Bengals are lights out. They're defense is very opportunistic and they do give up points/yards, but that offense is tough to beat.

Cochise
12-10-2005, 02:49 PM
I agree with the sentiment, any team that can keep Plummer in the pocket will beat Denver. I dont think Denver is good enough to beat the Colts until they get a new QB.

Mile High Mania
12-10-2005, 02:51 PM
I agree with the sentiment, any team that can keep Plummer in the pocket will beat Denver. I dont think Denver is good enough to beat the Colts until they get a new QB.

I think the defense is more the reason for Indy owning Denver recently... Plummer wasn't trying to cover Wayne/Harrison/Stokley as Manning carved them up.

Cochise
12-10-2005, 02:51 PM
The other thing hurting their passing game is Lelie showing people that they were right when people said he wasn't first round talent. Lelie hasn't been the player he should have been this season and Rod continues to be the only consistent threat.

Lelie might be a change of scenery guy. Maybe he doesn't relate to his coaches or something. I think he might end up thriving in another offense.

tk13
12-10-2005, 02:52 PM
Anyone that thought Plummer had turned a corner this year was being silly. I think he has played smarter and that has helped him, but to say he had "4 a game" that should have been picked is absurd. There were near misses that should have been picked off, but not that many.

The other thing hurting their passing game is Lelie showing people that they were right when people said he wasn't first round talent. Lelie hasn't been the player he should have been this season and Rod continues to be the only consistent threat.

I like the production from the RBs, but I don't like RBBC.

Defensively, the D line has been better, but they're getting into stretches of not getting to QB and as a whole they suck at sacking the QB. The LBs and safetys are fine. I like the CBs, but when you have a lot of rookies running around, shit is going to get mixed up. Just look at last week when they were using the miscommunication excuse. I thought it was odd to just let Walls go once he got healthy, esp since he was a veteran.

Overall, I like this team much better than in years past, but some of the same things from last year seem to be creeping up. The DBs getting burned and inconsistent pressure on the QB.

The fact that nobody other than Rod is stepping up sucks and it's disappointing when I see what Lelie had done the last couple of years. The guy has the talent, I just question his determination.

Everyone will blame Jake and that's fine, it's easy to do, but I don't think he's holding them back right now. There have been many times lately when he has made clutch plays.

I don't think there's anyway that the AFC title game isn't featuring Indy vs Bengals, that's just my honest opinion.
I don't think Jake is the guy holding them back necessarily. Actually I think Jake is the only reason you were in the Chiefs game. There were two different scoring drives where he made amazing plays on 3rd down to avoid a sack and get a first down. If he doesn't get those, and we're talking inches from being grabbed and going down, they don't score on those drives and it's a Chiefs blowout.

Cochise
12-10-2005, 02:52 PM
I think the defense is more the reason for Indy owning Denver recently... Plummer wasn't trying to cover Wayne/Harrison/Stokley as Manning carved them up.

Yeah, it may be two sides of the same coin. But I don't know if you can put a secondary together that is going to totally limit the passing game. You need to be able to shoot it out with them to win.

FringeNC
12-10-2005, 02:52 PM
I agree with the sentiment, any team that can keep Plummer in the pocket will beat Denver. I dont think Denver is good enough to beat the Colts until they get a new QB.

Well, given that they have a offense and can get the lead. The Broncos playing with a lead are hard to beat. If they are behind, or are in a shootout, Plummer is not nearly as effective.

I don't think very many teams can move the ball like we did against Denver. With Roaf, we have the best offense in the game...I think Denver, if they get #2 seed, with advance to the AFC championship game (unless they play us, of course).

alanm
12-10-2005, 02:53 PM
The Ravens with a good Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, etc have had Denver's number... This Baltimore team isn't good at all.

Offensively, the Bengals are lights out. They're defense is very opportunistic and they do give up points/yards, but that offense is tough to beat.
You know it used to be that way with the Chiefs and Indy and Miami. It didn't matter how good the Chiefs were, when we played them or where, or how shitty they were. The Chiefs just couldn't beat them. You guys have the same problem with the Ravens.

Cochise
12-10-2005, 02:54 PM
You know it used to be that way with the Chiefs and Indy and Miami. It didn't matter how good the Chiefs were when we played them or where, or how shitty they were. The Chiefs just couldn't beat them. You guys have the same problem with the Ravens.

Baltimore is awful. Denver will beat them.

tk13
12-10-2005, 02:55 PM
I think the defense is more the reason for Indy owning Denver recently... Plummer wasn't trying to cover Wayne/Harrison/Stokley as Manning carved them up.
Yeah, but you can score with them. The Colts defense was horrible, and the Broncos offense was completely ineffective. I'm not sure they would've won either playoff game, but the offense at least could've stepped up and made it close and given themselves a chance.

Tuckdaddy
12-10-2005, 02:57 PM
In other words he sucks and can't be depended on.

morphius
12-10-2005, 03:46 PM
Actually MHM, a few of us have counted. I know that over the last 4 (maybe 5) weeks there have been about 3 a week. I counted 3 one week, 4 the next, someone else here said they counted 4 the week before that and there were 4 last week against the Chiefs. Though I believe early on it was much less then that because there were a couple game I saw where it was closer to 1 if that.

the Talking Can
12-10-2005, 04:40 PM
"Reading a defense and going through progressions are not Plummer's strong suits..."



now there's an understatement....

Chiefs Pantalones
12-10-2005, 05:25 PM
Actually MHM, a few of us have counted. I know that over the last 4 (maybe 5) weeks there have been about 3 a week. I counted 3 one week, 4 the next, someone else here said they counted 4 the week before that and there were 4 last week against the Chiefs. Though I believe early on it was much less then that because there were a couple game I saw where it was closer to 1 if that.

He's a Bronco fan, you think he's going to admit that Plummer is terrible?

morphius
12-10-2005, 05:39 PM
He's a Bronco fan, you think he's going to admit that Plummer is terrible?
TJ did last year, so anything is possible.

Nelson Muntz
12-10-2005, 05:47 PM
Baltimore is awful. Denver will beat them.

I agree. There is absolutely no way that Baltimore can beat Denver.