The Broncos thought they were done with the zone-read option offensive looks after 2011 starting quarterback Tim Tebow was dealt to the New York Jets in March. From an offensive perspective, they were. But now the Broncos hope their defenders took good notes, with Carolina's Cam Newton ready and willing to use plenty of zone-read looks when the teams meet Sunday.
Five of the Broncos' starting 11 defenders weren't with the team last year. But cornerback Champ Bailey was, and he hasn't been shy about imparting a crucial lesson he learned from watching Tebow and the Broncos' 2011 misdirection at work.
"Simple: do your job, because once you try to do someone else's job, that's when the big runs take place," Bailey said. "Watching tape of a couple of teams, one guy has the quarterback, one guy has the pitch. Both of them played the pitch; the quarterback goes 40 yards. You just have to do your job."
It's also not the only element with which the Broncos must contend. At times, the Broncos exclusively ran the zone-read option, only changing when the defense adapted and left the Broncos with no other choice. Carolina interweaves the zone-read into a multi-faceted attack.
"Some of the things that we do are very similar to what the Broncos were doing last year with Tebow," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "I think it's a little bit more different though because we really line up and do some more conventional stuff as opposed to constantly using that zone-read scheme that Tim ran so well for Denver."