Evaluating How Broncos QB Brandon Allen Performed Under Pass-Rush Pressure

Erick Trickel

Week 9's bout vs. the Cleveland Browns was the first NFL start (and snaps) for Denver Broncos quarterback Brandon Allen and he did quite well. He showed his mobility, protected the football, and energized the team. 

For how mobile Allen is, he still took three sacks in the game. Could Allen have avoided these sacks? 

Let's take a look at the film. 

Play 1: 1:06 | First Quarter | Panic in the Pocket

Situation: 3rd-&-11

On this first sack, the Broncos ran a fake wide receiver screen, and it drew the Browns defense in. However, it didn’t draw the linebacker enough to get WR DaeSean Hamilton behind the linebackers. It is at this point that RG Ron Leary and C Connor McGovern were driven back, while RT Elijah Wilkinson gave up the edge, allowing the stunt on the left to free the pass rusher up the middle unblocked. Allen was late to see the free blitzer, and when he finally does recognize the free runner, you can see the panic sit in.

Allen goes to move, but it is too late at this point. He runs right into LG Dalton Risner, who had been walked back on the play. Allen covers up the ball to protect it as he should. 

There was a lane for Allen on the right that he missed. He showed good pocket awareness on other plays, but he was poor on this one. Part of it could be chalked up to a simple lack of experience.

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Play 2: 0:11 | Second Quarter | Victim of a Lapse

Situation: 1st-&-5

There are 11 seconds left on the clock and Denver is being aggressive, attempting to get a field goal before the half. There was a receiver open deep near the sideline to at least give the Broncos a chance, but Allen didn’t have the time to hit him. 

Instead, LT Garett Bolles gives up the quick pressure around the edge. Allen starts to climb but just goes down, giving himself up.

This sack falls on Bolles. His failure to maintain his pass protection and give Allen the proper time potentially kept points off the board for the Broncos. It was smart of Allen to just go down and give himself up here.

Play 3: 12:26 | Third Quarter | Blitzkrieg

Situation: 3rd-&-3

The Browns have pressure in the A-gaps and are bringing six pass rushers. There isn’t much time for Allen as RB Royce Freeman fails in his blitz pickup. Freeman doesn’t square up to the line, and the rusher has the inside pathway, which he uses as he keeps Freeman’s hands off of him. 

Allen tries to move, but there was nowhere for him to go. 

What it Means

Not all of these sacks were avoidable. Of the three of them, only one was, but you can’t fault Allen for not taking that lane out of the danger zone so early in the play. 

Allen did get panicked when pressure was coming, but it should ease up with more playing time. The Broncos offensive line has been an issue all year, and even having a significantly more mobile quarterback could only help them so much. 

Follow Erick on Twitter @ErickTrickel and @MileHighHuddle. 

Comments (3)
No. 1-2
Chad Jensen
Chad Jensen


I was pleasantly surprised by Allen's pocket awareness. He did panic on that early sack, no doubt. But we can expect nothing less from a first-time starter. Man, how that mobility alleviated pressure on the OL and opened up that offense, though!


One aspect of his game I haven’t seen talked about is his cadence. Allen used the hard count effectively to keep the defense off balance and draw a penalty (also one on Bolles but whaddaya expect anymore?). For a first time starter, it was refreshing to see as I haven’t seen a Bronco QB since Manning use a hard count effectively, if at all.