Denver’s running a cover 1 linebacker blitz, which means for Houston to have success on this play, Watson’s going to have to find a matchup that he finds favorable, and find it quickly since Denver’s going to be rushing an extra man.
Here Watson sees he has his tight end Jordan Thomas against Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell. Thomas is 3 inches taller then Jewell, and weights 44 more pounds. Watson knows Thomas would have an advantage in a one on one matchup, and throws it there for a touchdown.
Here Denver’s going to be running a cover 2 man coverage, which means the main way for Houston the beat that coverage would be to have a receiver make a quick cut. However if a receiver makes a quick cut near the first down marker, they could be tackled short of the first down, making it a good play call here on 3rd and 10.
For Houston, they’re running a play that’s really designed to beat a cover 2 zone, but since Denver’s playing man, all the Broncos have to do is not have any of their defensive backs get burned and they’ll be okay. The Texans had a man in motion, but Broncos cornerback Tramaine Brock did a good job of moving subtly, not making it super clear whether he’s playing man or zone. I’ve circled Chris Harris Jr. because if he was decently far away from the middle of the field, it would be another sign of man coverage. Since Houston wasn’t able to tell Denver was playing man, they weren’t able to audible to another play.
At this point, there’s no real chance of Watson getting a first down. He has a tight end open in the flat, and probably should’ve passed it there, but it realistically wasn’t going get a first down anyways barring multiple missed tackles.
So this is a pretty similar situation, but this time it’s Houston on defense. They’re paying a cover 2 man, and this time it’s just 3rd and 5, so a quick cut would probably get a man open and allow Denver to pick up a first down. However, Denver’s not running a play with quick cuts.
This is what it would look like if Houston was playing cover 2 zone, which is a play that’s commonly used on a third and short situation since it takes away quick passes. The route’s you see are the route’s Denver’s receivers ran, and it would’ve been a good play call if Houston was playing cover 2 zone.
However it ends up being cover 2 man, and Denver has nobody open, which gives time for Jadeveon Clowney to blow past Broncos left guard Max Garcia and kill Case Keenum.
I might as well break down another cover 2 man, since it was so much fun the first 2 times. This one’s pretty simple, but still interesting. It’s relatively similar to Watson’s touchdown pass that I broke down earlier.
Keenum quickly reads the coverage, and sees Houston’s playing man. Now he’s going to pass it to where he feels he has a favorable matchup, which in this case is tight end Jeff Heuerman who’s being guarded by Texans linebacker Benardrick McKinney. McKinney actually takes a really good angle, however Heuerman makes a good move and and is able to slip by McKinney for a first down.