April 17, 2014

Know Your Opponent : With @TexansBroncos

Know-Your-Opponent-2

State of the Texans continues our Know Your Opponent series for Week 3 with a focus on the Houston Texans matchup versus the Denver Broncos and our old rival, Peyton Manning. This time around we dig into the well-informed mind of resident State of the Texans, Broncos AND Texans fan Aaron Close. We get Aaron’s thoughts on what we can expect to see from the Manning-led Broncos offense, Von Miller and company on defense and what, if any, effect Mile High air has on Bulls.

We also took questions from the Twitter crew to ensure the questions YOU want answered are addressed. You can ask your questions for future weeks with the hashtag #KYO, addressed to @TheClaireBear23. We will select the best 3 questions week to week. 

Why were the Broncos seemingly so surprised by how the Falcons disguised their coverages? What do you anticipate the Broncos doing differently against the Texans? (@TXBobbumman)

I don’t know if they were surprised by it but they clearly didn’t handle it well. Manning is very used to reading alignments and adjusting on the fly. Atlanta did an excellent job of game planning to prevent this. The Broncos will use similar schemes against the Texans but expect to see A LOT of tight ends as this is clearly where they have the advantage against the Texans from a matchup point of view. I would also look to see if Manning tries to pick on Kareem Jackson to see if he has improved over the last time he saw him in 2010.
 
Does the fact that the Texans defense was specifically formulated to stop Manning translate now that the Texans face him and the Broncos? How? (@OlYeller01)

I wouldn’t say this defense is designed to stop Manning but defend the pass very well. One huge difference between what the Broncos are doing versus the Colts is the use of the power run game, even running power plays from the shotgun.  This Broncos team can run the ball and (Willis) McGahee is a huge part of that (by the way - the only running back in NFL history to rush for 1000 yards with 3 different teams.) The Broncos also run a hybrid running scheme with some traditional straight ahead blocking and some zone schemes. The zone game by them is not as good as the Texans because they don’t cut off the back side very well and they don’t get to the second level and take the linebackers out of the play.  
 
How does the Broncos offense match up with the Texans defense and what are some of the key matchups?  (@Joeeatstacos)

The Texans win almost every match up here with a couple of exceptions: if Ryan Clady lines up against anyone other than (J.J.) Watt he will win the matchup. The rest of the O-line is nothing special and all of these matchups favor the Texans. The tight end group is where the Broncos look to have the better match up vs the Texans. If Brady James is asked to cover (Jacob) Tamme, the Texans will get picked apart. If we see Jackson covering (Demaryius) Thomas that could make for a long day also.

What do you think about the match up between Derek Newton versus Von Miller this week? 

Newton has the strength but not the speed to stop Miller. The only thing that will stop Von Miller is an effective play action game that will freeze him just long enough for Owen Daniels or Andre Johnson to get open.

Does Kubiak’s familiarity with the “thin air” at Mile High lend any disadvantage to the week 3 home team?

I don’t think the thin air thing is as big of a deal as the media makes it out to be. I work out in Houston every day and a week ago was jogging at 10,000’. I find it easier to breathe in Colorado than Houston because of the much lower humidity. All that said the place is a kicker’s dream and adds a good 5 yards to field goal range over being in the thick air of Houston.

Peyton Manning got off to a bad start against the Falcons with 3 INTs on his first 4 drives, but ended up 24/37 for 241 yards and 1 TD. How confident are you he eliminates some of these errors in week 3?

I would never bet on Peyton having 2 bad games in a row! Even with the picks Manning never changed his attitude or body language, he is a guy who knows how to let the mistakes go and move on and make things happen. The main thing that seemed to affect Peyton was the large amount of pre-snap movement by Atlanta. I don’t expect that from the Texans but Wade (Phillips) is a smart guy and may try to do this knowing how effective it was for Atlanta.

Willis McGahee went 22 carries for 113 yds, averaging 5.1 ypc with a long of 31 against Atlanta. How will he attack the Texans run defense this week? 

I would expect a lot of draw plays out of the Broncos. They ran some pseudo-draw plays against Atlanta with a lot of effectiveness and the draw is one of the places that look like a place where they could make progress against the Texans.  Also without a real space-eating nose tackle, the Texans might be weak in the power run game up the middle. Look for the Broncos to test this early.

Who are some lesser known Broncos players on offense and defense for whom the Texans need to watch?

On offense I would actually say Joel Dreessen. I think he might be looking to make a bit of a statement to his former team and Peyton would be inclined to help.  On defense I would go with Joe Mays. He is an excellent middle linebacker and does well when asked to cover tight ends and running backs in pass coverage, along with being excellent in run support.

We are appreciative to State of the Texans’ own Bronco expert Aaron for aiding in our understanding of the inner workings of the Broncos personnel and matchups against the Texans for the coming battle this Sunday. You can follow Aaron aka “Bubbles,” on Twitter here and hear him on the Luv Ya Steel Blue podcast weekly throughout the season right here. If you submitted a question this week and it wasn’t posted, don’t be discouraged!  We’ll continue to try and get the best questions in weekly.

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