Cosell’s Watching the Wild Cards: Tebow’s Arm Broke Steel

Denver Broncos, From the Desk of Greg Cosell, Greg Cosell, Inside the Game, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Matchup’s Executive Producer shares notes from his study of Wild Card Weekend coaching tape: Broncos offense vs. Steelers defense.

  • Steelers game planned to play snaps of “cover zero”, 2nd play of game Munday and Polamalu blitzed versus 6 OL personnel and forced McGahee fumble
  • First 3rd + long (3rd + 7) the Steelers rushed 5 and played “man free”, Tebow stepped up in the pocket and made an inaccurate throw to open Royal on the out route
  • Hampton was finished for the game after the 1st series, McLendon replaced him at NT

  • Steelers clearly committed to playing the run, LB shot gaps and safeties attacked the line of scrimmage

    Demaryius Thomas breaks away from Ryan Mundy (AP)

  • “Cover zero” was a Steelers foundation on early downs in normal and distance situations, especially versus 6 OL personnel
  • Thomas 51 yds on 3rd + 12 result of Tebow pocket movement and a great deep throw; Steelers coverage took away progression throws so Tebow moved outside the pocket, Set his feet and delivered a strike to Thomas who had a step on Taylor – Can’t throw it any better than Tebow did on that play
  • Royal 30 yd TD came against “cover 3”; Tebow kept Mundy in the deep middle with a pump fake and made an outstanding throw to a well covered Royal on “sluggo”, Showed anticipation and great accuracy – An NFL throw
  • Tebow’s delivery has improved since he became the starter, It will never be quick and compact but it’s a little less elongated and deliberate – Must continue to work on it since arm strength correlates to arm speed
  • Kiesel injured on Royal 30 yd TD and did not return, Heyward replaced him in the base 3-4
  • Thomas 58 yds off play action with Tebow under center and 6 OL personnel, Steelers “cover zero” to defend run with Taylor one-on-one versus Thomas, Broncos worked off staple in-breaking route and Thomas ran a double move – A designed shot play that beat the Steelers defense
  • Tebow 9 yd TD was shotgun “power” from empty set; Must defend QB “power” when you play Tebow in 2 specific situations, red zone and 3rd + long
  • Fells 40 yds was a beautifully designed play off a staple TE crossing route to take advantage of Polamalu’s aggressiveness; Tebow play action boot left with a great throw on the move, Fells began across the field then ran vertically
  • Tebow threw the ball with more consistent accuracy than in any previous game this season
  • Broncos a lot of closed formations with 2 receivers, 3 receivers and even 4 receivers to the open side; Accomplished 2 things: Gave Tebow half-field reads and either/or reads off play action
  • Tebow run element caused problems for the Steelers, whether it was read option or speed option
  • Harrison had a lot of problems with the read option, Tebow took advantage of him a number of times
  • Steelers defense was reactive, not proactive; They played majority of snaps out on base 3-4 and their pressure schemes predominantly come out of nickel – Nickel corner Lewis only played 13 snaps
  • Broncos adjustment this game was to take some deep shots off staple flash play action, Excellent tactic to loosen up the defense and prevent 8 and 9 man boxes to play the run – Shot plays featured more than in any previous game
  • 6 OL was featured part of Broncos game plan, 6th OL Clark played 17 snaps
  • This was the first game in which Tebow made some anticipation throws versus man coverage, That’s a positive step
  • Steelers a significant number of snaps in the 2nd half in which they brought both safeties Polamalu and Mundy into the box to defend the run
  • Thomas 80 yd TD on 1st play of OT was set up by the entire 2nd half:  Royal tight motion closed the formation, Steelers went “cover zero” to defend the run, Taylor played with outside leverage and there was no safety in the middle of the field – Shotgun play action and in-breaking route by Thomas, who ran away from defense
  • Tebow only threw 2 passes on 1st down in the entire game, with 2:40 left in the 3rd quarter and the OT game winner to Thomas; Tebow only threw the ball on passing down and distances – Raises question as to why the Broncos did not throw on 1st down versus defined single high and “cover zero” looks
  • Steelers were beaten by Tebow’s passing in this game, Their defensive foundation was stopping the run with a loaded box and they were beaten a number of times for big plays in man coverage
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