The Denver Broncos got out to an early lead against the Indianapolis Colts, only to find themselves on the losing end of the game due to a last-minute field goal. There were many issues for the Broncos that caused them to lose their sixth game of the season.
It runs the gamut from bad and conservative play-calling, to poor execution on the field. These are all issues holding the Broncos back.
Part of the problem with the execution on the field was the blocking upfront. It wasn’t just one player, but a combination of players. This film article is going to break down three plays from right guard Ronald Leary, and all three of them were actually good plays by him, for the most part.
The reasons these plays failed, were because of the failure to execute by a teammate of his. The final play was actually a great play, that was executed very well, where Leary made not one, but two key blocks.
Let's take a look.
Play 1: 10:39 | First Quarter | A Miscommunication
Denver is trying to run the ball up the middle, and initially, the blocking is good upfront. That doesn’t last, though, and the play ends up going badly for the Broncos. Leary ends up having his block shed, and his defender makes the tackle for a very short gain. However, it looks like there was a miscommunication here.
Watching this play, the miscommunication seems to be between right tackle Ja'Wuan James and Leary. It looks like tight end Jeff Heuerman was supposed to take the edge defender, with James coming in to double the interior defensive lineman. This would put Phillip Lindsay one-on-one with a linebacker and probably would have resulted in Denver picking up a few more yards than just one.
After the play is over, you can see Leary and James talking and after plays like this, typically that means something went wrong. With most inside runs, as was the design here, you double the interior, so it is an educated guess to say James was in the wrong on this play.
Play 2: 2:15 | Second Quarter | Picking up the Slack of Others
Here Leary is pulling to the left and actually does it very well. What hurts this play is a failure from WR DaeSean Hamilton and TE Noah Fant, and Leary tries to cover up their mistakes.
So let’s focus on Hamilton first. His assignment is to come inside and seal the hole by taking out the defensive back. He is slow to get there, but with Leary coming, Hamilton is about to get help. Then Fant goes and doubles the inside, letting a LB run right by him. That leaves two defenders with Leary having to pick them both up.
Leary manages to hold up the LB just enough while taking the DB. This allows Royce Freeman to cut inside and at least pick up three yards. This play falls more on Hamilton than Fant.
Fant doubling inside before climbing to the second level is typically what is asked. That allowed the LB into the backfield here, but that is what the pulling guard is for. Hamilton needed to be quicker to the DB, but he was at a disadvantage from the snap.
Play 3: 11:42 | Third Quarter | It All Comes Together
Situation: 1st-&-Goal (4-yard line)
This last play is a really good play-call that sets the Colts up with a weakness that the play-design exploits. The Broncos are also going to try running the ball, being four yards from the end zone after an earlier sequence of three passes with three yards to go that resulted in a field goal. So, good play-call? Check. Good execution? Also a check. Everyone does their jobs and unsurprisingly, the Broncos get the ball-carrier into the endzone.
It is a pretty basic stretch run that relies on the ball-carrier finding a cutback lane and hitting it. Everyone does their job, but what Leary does seals it for the Broncos to get into the end zone. At first, he stands up the interior defensive lineman. Once RT Elijah Wilkinson engages, Leary works on positioning as he goes to pass off the block. He put Wilkinson in a good position to finish the block with a win.
With that all set up, the next step for Leary is to climb and take out a LB. He does just that, taking advantage of the LB over-pursuing the stretch of the run, but gets into position to leave the cutback lane wide open. Freeman sees this and hits it for the easy touchdown.
The Broncos may have won this game if the offense received play-calls like this earlier in the game when they were in the red zone.
A big issue for Leary to start this season was how much he had to cover up for the deficiencies at right tackle. We got to see some of that again in this game, but not to start.
When the Broncos call plays that let Leary work at what he does best, he actually does very well. It is a shame that in two of these plays, others failed to execute. Isn’t it amazing what calling plays to fit the players can do?