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Published on 08/14/2007 at Tue Aug 14 12:26.
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Call me obsessive… I won’t deny it. My Tivo has been working overtime as I watch the first drive over and over again. I’m solidifying my opinions on Montrae Holland and Chris Myers as the stud and dud of the game, respectively. The more I watch Holland the more I fall in love with the guy, and the more I watch Myers the more I want to stop…

In lieu of the Top 10 today, I’m writing this breakdown of the Broncos’ first drive, where we marched 67 yards in 8 plays – 4 minutes and 6 seconds -and scored a touchdown on Travis Henry‘s one yard run.

NOTE: I tried not to get too technical for the non-“football literate” readers out there. I felt the need to mention the gaps, though, and thought this image courtesy of Football 101 would help.

Football Gap Diagram

After Quincy Morgan returned the opening kickoff to the Denver 33 yard line, the chess match began.

Play #1 – 1st and 10 – Denver 33

THE CALL: Run, right, through the B Gap (the hole between the guard and tackle, pictured above).
THE EXECUTION: Nalen, Meadows and Holland would all be called upon to pick up the blocks and did so beautifully. I think Daniel Graham lined up on the right side as well, but it’s hard to tell with the footage provided. LG Meyers and Meadows picked up their blocks immediately, opening a hole. Holland went first into the hole and completely consumed his defender. Meanwhile, LT Erik Pears and C Nalen move into the 49er backfield and hold crucial blocks against their foes, a good 6 or 7 yards past the line of scrimmage. Henry was quick with his one cut and hit the hole before it closed.
THE RESULT: 11 yards, first down, as Henry was barely touched until 8 yards past the line of scrimmage. This play was a thing of beauty – everyone hit their assignment, and the Broncos 2007 campaign is underway.

Play #2 – First and 10 – Denver 44

THE CALL: Pass, 3-wide.
THE EXECUTION: The offensive line held its own, not letting the 49er defenders get into Cutler‘s face. Cutler looked right for Javon Walker, immediately saw he was pretty well covered by Nate Clements, looked left and targeted Domenik Hixon at around the San Francisco 40 yard line.

THE RESULT: The poor pass bounced short of Hixon, who was wide open. Incomplete.

Play #3 – Second and 10 – Denver 44

THE CALL: Pass. 2-Tight End set.
THE EXECUTION: Most of the offensive line holds up. LG Myers does a decent job of directing his defender’s energy away from Cutler to the side, but this opens up a huge hole for a Niner to blitz on the left. Meanwhile, another linebacker shoots through the right A gap and meets Travis Henry, who responds with an impressive block. Cutler throws just as the left side blitzer hits him in the mouth, aiming for Javon Walker, who is mismatched against backup CB Shawntae Spencer.
THE RESULT: Pass completed for 24 yards. Beautiful throw by Cutler.

Play #4 – First and 10 – San Francisco 32

THE CALL: Run left, edge.
THE EXECUTION: This blocking had a lot of breakdowns, starting with TE Daniel Graham, who couldn’t hold his block after the first few seconds. His man was the first to hit Henry, but Henry broke the tackle… meanwhile, LG Chris Myers had his first really bad snap. I don’t think he blocked anybody really. He definitely missed his assignment, then he ran forward for another block out of the screen’s view, or maybe he just ran, who knows. His man also got to Henry, who broke that tackle too… Javon Walker had showed good enough blocking last year, but he failed to hit his block again. I’ll chalk it up to a star wide receiver who doesn’t want to get injured in the preseason and so isn’t hitting as hard as he normally would… his man finally knocked Henry out of bounds.
THE RESULT: All Henry, baby. Even when the line lets him down he made the play all on his own. 9 yard gain.

Play #5 – Second and 1 – San Francisco 23

THE CALL: One yard on a second down? What do you think? (Run right, edge in this case, but definitely a run).
THE EXECUTION: Adam Meadows really whiffed on this one – he and Nalen moved to the second level of the defense, and Meadows’ man burned him to the right and nearly tackled Henry for a big loss. But Henry fought through… Nalen looks like he had a decent second level block, and the rest of the line was busy clogging up defenders (Chris Myers looked funny in this one… not sure if that was an attempted chop block or just falling flat on his face). Henry’s second effort kept the play alive.
THE RESULT: 6 yard gain, first down.

Play #6 – Second and 10 – San Francisco 17

THE CALL: Pass, 2-tight end.
THE EXECUTION: Overall it was great, but it just shows how one broken link can ruin the entire chain. LG Chris Myers got beat, RIGHT OFF the ball. I mean bad. Within one second his man was penetrating into the Denver backfield and threatening Cutler. As Cutler evades his would-be sacker, RG Montrae Holland absolutely levels his man, with help from Nalen, knocking him to the ground. Adam Meadows’ solid blocking at RT allowed Cutler to shoot through the B Gap and run forward. With Javon telling Cutler to follow, then missing his block, Jay nearly scores a touchdown.
THE RESULT: 16 yard gain on the legs of Cutler. Had Javon made his block, it would have been a sure touchdown, but again I can’t blame Javon because I don’t want him getting hurt in the preseason either… he at least ruffled the guys’ feathers a bit.

Play #7 – First and GOAL – San Francisco 1

THE CALL: Run, left A Gap
THE EXECUTION: Daniel Graham showed some toughness on this play, as the pile up that formed at the San Francisco goal line didn’t give anyone much breathing room. He stayed afoot and kept his opponent at bay. Hard to tell the other specifics on the blocking – it’s a huge mess of red and white jerseys, but Henry isn’t able to break the plane.
THE RESULT: No gain.

Play #8 – Second and GOAL – San Francisco 1

THE CALL: Pretty much the same. Run, left A Gap.
THE EXECUTION: This time the Broncos entire offensive line blocked to the left side, with Holland and Meadows bulldozing the pile of Niner defenders. FB Kyle Johnson is able to penetrate into the end zone and get a block, and Travis Henry isn’t too far behind.

The Broncos first drive of the 2007 campaign is over, and while it was only preseason it was exciting to say the least. If you have the means, I definitely recommend you play back last night’s game and watch the first drive with this handy “Viewer’s Guide,” if you will. Our offensive line looks dominant again this season, and with starters Lepsis and Hamilton returning, things could get really scary for our opponents.

  • studbucket

    Great stuff kmonty!

    It rocks to see other CS students into the Broncos. Thanks for all the hard work you do.

  • kmonty

    Welcome to BroncoTalk! And thanks for the kind words.

    A fellow CS student, huh? I beg you, don’t look at my source code… it’s some pretty sloppy stuff. :)


  • denverobsession

    I’m linking to this over on MDO. This is simply GREAT stuff!

    Keep up the really, really awesome work!

    Jonathan Douglas

  • Pingback: My thoughts on Denver’s MNF Skirmish « My Denver Obsession()

  • studbucket

    LOL, I never thought about looking at the source code, what did you build it using, rails? php?

  • kmonty

    PHP… but it’s the CSS and making sure it looks good across browser that I really need to work on.