Breaking down Peyton Manning vs. the Jets

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Today, let’s go back to Wild Card weekend and examine the “Bang 8” (or skinny post) route concept in the Jets-Colts matchup. An ideal scheme to target the technique of a man-to-man cornerback and test the discipline of the free safety in the middle of the field.

Before we get to the video, let’s set this up. The Colts are in their standard Ace personnel (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) with the two TEs (Y, U) in a “trump wing” alignment to the closed side of the formation. The Jets come out of the huddle in their Nickel personnel (5 DBs on the field) playing Cover 1.

Take a look at the replay and then we will get into some detailed coaching points to breakdown Peyton Manning’s 57-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon vs. Jets' CB Antonio Cromartie.

Coaching Points:

1. WR release: Focus on the release and stem of Garcon from the reduced split. Working vs. Cromartie (playing off-man technique) he has to widen the Jets CB to open the throwing lane for Manning. Use the initial outside release; stem the route to the numbers and then break back to the post. What we see here from Garcon is a great example of the WR creating separation vs. a CB playing outside leverage.

Peyton Manning ICONManning was able to hit Garcon on the 'Bang 8' once the WR beat the Jets Antonio Cromartie to the post.

2. Cromartie’s technique: Solid at the start. Playing in an off-man alignment, Cromartie “weaves” his pedal to stay square and maintain outside leverage on Garcon. The issue occurs when he is asked to turn his hips and run. The Jets' CB doesn’t transition or stay “in-phase” with the WR. Because of that, he gets too tall, overextends his hips and fades to the boundary. Now he is in a trail position vs. a wide receiver that is working back to the post—and he desperately needs safety help.

3. Depth of the FS: Really poor here. As a FS in any single high defense (Cover 1, Cover 3, man pressure, zone pressure), you have to drive top down on the post route. As I have written before, angles to the ball and depth are much more important than stopwatch speed at the free safety position. Although we can’t see his initial pre-snap alignment on the TV tape, all you need to look at is the end result. Because when a FS takes a parallel angle to the ball, he has no chance to make a play. Can’t do that in the NFL—or at any level of football vs. the deep ball.

4. Manning’s throw: This is the type of throw you put on clinic tape. Work the play action game and deliver the ball on the up field shoulder of the WR. Even with the poor technique of Cromartie and the depth of the FS, there is still only a small window for Manning to hit Garcon. Throw the ball too short (or back to the middle of the field) and the FS can come into play. But, as we see here, Manning steps into the throw and delivers a near perfect ball for the score.

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