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BMW Ultimate Performance: Premium pass rush

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips wanted to clarify something last weekend:

Perhaps it was because of lines like the one from Bears play-by-play broadcaster Sam Rosen, who opened his call of the first sack thusly:

"... the Broncos fake the blitz, now they come with it ..."

On that sack of Jay Cutler by Shane Ray and Derek Wolfe, the Broncos ultimately brought four defenders. Brandon Marshall showed rush, but then moved outside to cover Jeremy Langford out of the backfield.

"Blitz" is the descendant of "red dog," which was originally created to describe an attack in which one area of the defense was left exposed -- whether it was an area in zone coverage, or a potential receiver in man-to-man.

On sacks like Vontarrius Dora's first sack, it looks like a six-man rush, but it's really a five-man attack, because Corey Nelson takes responsibility for RB Jaquizz Rodgers, who had just picked up 20 yards on a screen pass on the previous play. Nelson engages with Rodgers, which prevents him from being a short checkdown option on the fourth-and-3, and with good downfield 1-on-1 coverage, Dora has the sack and the Broncos earn their stop.

And then, of course, there's the Broncos' ability to get sacks with four-man rushes. Dora's second sack came on one of these plays, but equal credit must go to Adam Gotsis, who goes inside and gets Bears offensive lineman Martin Wallace turned perpendicular to the line of scrimmage. All Wallace can do is shove Gotsis in the back as he roars by, which causes him to lose his balance, but not before he arrives at Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer, almost managing to corral him for the sack.

What makes the Broncos' defense so effective is its ability to get pressure without sacrificing coverage. Making this work requires defensive backs who can handle one-on-one coverage responsibilities, of course. That the Broncos did this just as well with reserves as with starters Thursday is testament to their defensive depth and their ability to identify players who fit what they want to do.



... One of the most well-conceived plays of the game came on the fourth play from scrimmage, an 11-yard pass from Sanchez to Demaryius Thomas that allowed the Broncos to cross midfield for the first time. Sanchez rolled to his left, and by the time he got outside of the pocket, had three potential targets: Emmanuel Sanders short and near the left sideline, Thomas at the sticks and Virgil Green five yards beyond Thomas and in the open field. Hitting any one would have moved the sticks; Sanders had plenty of room in front of him and no defenders within seven yards, and Green was open downfield, with Bears defenders closing on Thomas.

... There are two things that you have to like from Trevor Siemian's 22-yard pass play to Jordan Taylor in the final seconds of the first half. The first is the way Siemian keeps his eyes downfield; although he turns his head a bit as he begins to escape the Bears' four-man rush, he never loses sight of his receivers.

Second, as he rolls out, is his ability to serve as an aircraft ramp marshal while he runs. The marshal, of course, is the person who uses his or her arms to signal the aircraft when and where to move on the tarmac. As Siemian rolls out, he makes a gesture with his hand, signaling Taylor to get into position. Siemian then makes a picture-perfect strike to the wide-open receiver, who gets both feet in-bounds for the reception.

... Paxton Lynch improved at identifying the Bears' defensive intent as he went along. One of his best plays was on a quick 10-yard pass to Cody Latimer, in which he finds the receiver right at the spot vacated by the slot cornerback, who attacks but is quickly blocked by Darrion Weems.

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