Pressure: Is it the O-Line, or the Secondary?

We all know that in order to win on Sunday, the Seahawks defensive line needs to get to Peyton Manning. Most of the focus is on Sacks, but there are ways to get Peyton off his spot that don't result in a sack. I was reading over the Pressure Points article on, and noticed two things. A: Seahawks have the #2 Defense in PP; and B: Denver has only faced 3 Defenses in the top half of the league in PP.

I decided to look at what happened when the Broncos met the 3 defenses in the top half off the league according to Pressure Points (BAL #6, Wk 1; KC #9; Wk 11&13; HOU #1, Wk 16).

Week 1: Baltimore @Denver (27-49): If you look at the narrative, this is where Manning announced to the world that this was going to be the #1 offense. But lost in that story is that the Ravens sacked Manning 3 times. Terrell Suggs also had 2 QB hits and 2 hurries. The reason the Bronco's offense was so successful is that the Raven's DB's couldn't cover their receivers. I looked at the game log, and most of Manning's Passes are short passes for long gains.

Week 11: Kansas City @Denver (17-27): No sacks in this game. However, Justin Houston got 2 hurries and 2 batted passes. Again, Short passes for long runs is the name of the game here. Also of note, Dontari Poe was rather effective in the interior run game, and was also able to get a hurry.

Week 13: Denver @Kansas City (35-28): No sacks in this game either, but this was the game where Justin Houston was missing. The Chiefs were certainly missing Houston, and Tamba Hali was not at his best here again. However, yet again the major theme is that the Chiefs secondary got torched.

Week 16: Denver @Houston (37-13): Denver only gave up one sack, but JJ Watt was in the backfield hurrying Manning most of the day. Yet again, The secondary allowed too many short passes go for big gains.

The last one I want to look at is the Week 7 game between Denver and the Indianapolis Colts. Indianapolis was 19th in Pressure Points, getting pressure on 25% of Dropbacks (Seattle is at 30.9%). The important thing here (other than that the Broncos lost), is that the DBs of Indianapolis were able to get their hands on the Denver WRs. They were also able to stop the short passes for short gains (only 1 explosive play on a short pass). The Colts were able to Sack Manning 4 times, and had a large number of hurries and hits (couldn't find the actual numbers).

The story that I see from these games is that good defensive lines can get to Manning. But the most important thing is that limiting the short passes, both by knocking the receivers off of their routes, and making the tackle if they catch the ball. If this happens, Peyton Manning starts to move his targets deeper, which takes longer to develop, and leads to more sacks, hurries and hits.

It seems that most people on here have noticed this as well, but I figured I would put a statistical light on it. Thanks for reading!

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