Siemian’s Shakespearean Foreshadowing

[dt_divider style=”thick” /]I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen.

Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene 4, Lines 104 -113

William Shakespeare loved the use of foreshadowing, and relied upon that narrative trick through many of his writings. When you recall that his works were written for the stage, it makes sense; he wanted to prepare viewers, subtly, of disasters to come. So when Romeo and Juliet take their own lives, in some way the audience was ready. Above is just one example of foreshadowing in Romeo and Juliet. Romeo and his friends, Mercutio and Benvolio, are late to attend a party hosted by the Capulets. Romeo fears that attendance will set in motion some consequences that lead to his untimely death, but in the end, the young men forge on.

Last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, Trevor Siemian provided some foreshadowing of disaster that would make Shakespeare proud.

Late in the first half, with the score knotted at 10, the Denver Broncos and Siemian face a 3rd and 11 on the Buffalo 17-yard line. The Broncos took over possession following a Bills’ field goal, and have driven nearly the length of the field to get into the red zone. But in this third-and-long situation, the offense will not convert. They line up with Siemian (#13) in the shotgun and 11 offensive personnel on the field, with a bunched 2×2 formation. Buffalo shows blitz, butting nine defenders on the line of scrimmage and they sugar the A Gap:

The Broncos use a mirrored-passing concept, setting up a Smash design to each side of the field. There will be no play-action fake, Siemian simply uses a five-step drop in the pocket:

After taking the snap, Siemian hits his drop depth and reads the secondary:

Rather than blitzing, the defense has dropped into a Cover 2 look. This sets up nicely for the dual smash routes, as Cover 2 is a great way to hi-low the cornerbacks on each side of the field. But Siemian makes a curious decision here:

As you can see, he starts to exit out the back door of the pocket. This is one of those situations where you expect the quarterback to climb the pocket: When pressure is off the edges. Look at the interior of the line, and you will see that the blocking is holding up there. Rather than move forward, Siemian retreats…and retreats:

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Again, the ball was on the Buffalo 17-yard line. The quarterback retreats all the way to the Bills’ 34-yard line, before making a back-footed throw out of bounds. The pass falls harmlessly incomplete, and the Broncos are able to convert the field goal on the next play for a 13-10 lead at the half.

Foreshadowing. Not explicitly stating the future, just giving the viewer a taste of what will come.

With 10:55 remaining in the game, the Broncos return to Buffalo territory, facing a 1st and 10 on the Bills’ 24-yard line. The visitors trail by seven and need to come away with points on this drive. Again, the Denver offense puts Siemian in the shotgun and align with a tight 2×2 formation. Buffalo does not show blitz at the snap with their 4-2-5 nickel defense:

Here, the Broncos use a boot-action concept. Siemian fakes a handoff before rolling to the right, where three receivers will flood that side of the field:

To help sell this design, the play-side defensive end is unblocked, to make it look like an outside zone running play. But that means that Siemian will need to be quick with his decision, should the DE stay home and not chase the run action. On this play, the DE stays home, and he’s right in Siemian’s face:

Here, the quarterback needs to make a quick decision. He can either flip the ball to Emmanuel Sanders (#10) in the flat, try and get around the pressure and get back to the edge, or immediately throw it away given the duress.

Instead, as was foreshadowed, he retreats, this time back to the 38-yard line where he attempts to throw the ball away, again off his back foot, but this time, with a defender breathing down his neck:

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These violent delights have such violent ends.

Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 6, Line 9

Siemian makes the same mistake he did on the previous play, retreating and putting himself in a more perilous decision. Only here, what was simply foreshadowing on the previous example becomes a full-on disaster, as his off-balance attempt at a throw-away is intercepted, ending the Denver threat. As a quarterback, you need to learn from all your mistakes, but especially those that foretell disaster and woe.

Follow @MarkSchofield on Twitter. Buy his book, 17 Drives. Check out his BIG 10 scheme preview work here, such as his look at Indiana and the double post conceptNorthwestern and the Curl/Flat concept, or the Iowa Hawkeyes’ zone running game.

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