Super Bowl Observations: Manning Wasn’t Manning

After the first offensive play for the Denver Broncos resulted in a Safety, we should have know things would be bad. But we’ve seen the brilliance of Peyton Manning before. 2 points on a communication breakdown was nothing for him and his high-powered, record-breaking, Denver Offense to overcome, right?

Well, we all know the answer to that one. The most mind-boggling part of the Super Bowl beat-down was that it took far to long for the Denver Offense to even call plays like the Denver Offense likes to call. When they finally did, they had problems executing their offense. What was always their bread ‘n butter was now just more dysfunction.

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) throws a pass against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Timing Based Passing

Timing based passing is something few NFL quarterbacks have perfected as well as Peyton has. The way it works is the QB has a couple quick reads focusing primarily on 1-3 targets. Presnap, the QB identifies the MIKE and (attempts to identify)the coverage.

Upon snap of the ball, the QB drops back while watching which defenders are covering which areas and whether they are in Zone or in Man coverage. This is perhaps the most difficult part for young QBs to learn. Not only is the identification difficult but the process is done during dropping back and possibly under duress.  But for veterans like Manning, experience and film study play a big part in knowing what the coverage is going to be. Defenses develop identities and to the well-studied, most situations are predictable.

Finally we have the timing portion of the play. Manning and his receivers start a clock in their heads the moment the ball is snapped. There is a time and location for the ball to be delivered. The receiver must be at his spot ON TIME for the play to successfully work. Once this timing element is developed, the passing game is almost unstoppable.

Feb 2, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) lines up against Denver Broncos strong safety Omar Bolden (31) during the first halfin Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Stopping the Timing Based Passing Offense

To stop the offense the opposing defense needs strong Press Corners. Seattle has those. If the corner jams the receiver off route or slows his release, the timing will be impacted.

The curious thing with Sunday’s game is, even early on, when Seattle wasn’t disrupting the routes, Peyton wasn’t even attempting those quick timing based routes. It’s as if he knew Seattle would do it so he avoided it altogether.

Unfortunately this resulted in extended time in the pocket, which is one place you don’t want to be when playing this Seattle defense. By the time Manning got to his quick passing offense, it was too late. Seattle was playing with a lead they would never relinquish.

If the Broncos started playing “their game” would things have gone differently? Probably a little but for as badly as they were beaten I highly doubt it would have made that much of a difference. I just found it noteworthy to point out the Broncos deviated from what got them to the Super Bowl in the first place.

Topics: Peyton Manning

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