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FILM STUDY: Siemian more than a game manager

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We break down a quintessential play in the solid debut for the former Wildcat.

Trevor Siemian was more than a “game manager” in the opening game for the 2016 NFL season. He was able to make plays to help the Denver Broncos get off to a 1-0 start to their season. Here’s an example:

On this specific play, Siemian was able to withstand the well-designed pressure from the Carolina Panthers defense in order to pick up 20 yards for his offense.

The play is from the 4:58 mark in the first quarter. The Broncos line up in an empty formation and run the play diagrammed below. The play uses two common pass concepts to each side of the field. The Levels concept, a cover two-beater, is run at the top of the screen, to Siemian’s left. The Curl Flat concept, a cover three-beater at the bottom of the screen, to Siemian’s right.

Against empty formations, defensive coordinators will often have an audible that they will go with each week. This audible is typically an all-out blitz, or drop eight guys into coverage. The Carolina Panthers check to a blitz, but not one of the “all out” variety.

The Panthers use a traditional fire zone blitz (five-man rush, three deep, three under coverage), but with a subtle and lethal twist. In the figure below, the Panthers show six in the box, accounting for each of the offense’s six gaps, and overloading the protection scheme (six defenders against five offensive lineman). Two linebackers line up in the A gaps (located between the center/right guard and the center/left guard), and will force the center to declare which one he will block immediately after the ball is snapped.

Carolina uses a Rain Blitz. This calls for one of the inside linebackers to drop into coverage, based on which way the center blocks after the ball is snapped. In this case, the center shuffles to his left to block Luke Kuechly. Kuechley immediately breaks to the three receiver side of the formation to guard the middle hook zone. The other linebacker will continue to rush, leaving the right guard and right tackle to block three defenders (see the figure below).

In most cases, this blitz leaves the quarterback dead in the water when executed properly. This is where Trevor Siemian proves his worth. He gets the ball out to his uncovered receiver, with an unblocked defender running to knock his helmet off. He keeps his eyes on the safeties, and throws to the correct receiver. The safety who has flat responsibilities has a long way to travel to make the tackle. C.J. Anderson in space is in line with what the Broncos want to stress on offense, and that’s the result of this play

The videos below show the wide and tight angle.

Even though it was his first game, Trevor Siemian made savvy plays to help the Super Bowl Champs defend their crown. He’ll have more opportunities to his worth against a leaky Colts defense that gave up 340 yards and three touchdowns to Matt Stafford in Week 1.