The Oakland Radiers have nine new starters on defense, but it hasn’t taken them long to come together. They lead they NFL with nine sacks.
“They’ll give you a lot of different looks,” Broncos head coach John Fox said. “They’ve got good guys doing it. I think they’ve improved on the back end and I think they’ve improved playing team defense.”
Fox is right. It has been a total team effort. Seven players have a sack with not one player having more than two sacks (former Bronco Jason Hunter leads the team). Additionally, five sacks have come from the defensive backfield.
“They do a good job of freeing guys up,” offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. “That’s a good coaching staff over there. It’s a very intelligent group. They do a great job of using their personnel and that defense is playing as a group right now. That’s what our challenge is going to be—to match their intensity and make sure we’re on it because what they do is a good defensive scheme.”
The Broncos have given up just three sacks all year, which is great considering Peyton Manning has 85 pass attempts (only nine other quarterbacks have thrown the ball more than he has).
Of course in many people’s minds, namely non-Bronco fans, the offensive line became a point of weakness with Ryan Clady hitting the IR last week.
If new starting tackle Chris Clark can play well this week against the Raiders, he will be able to silence the doubters. Clark saw a lot of reps with the first team in camp and in preseason due to Clady recovering from shoulder surgery. When Gase was asked where Clark’s biggest improvement came from in the offseason, he said,
“I would say the run game; really he made some big strides. I always felt really confident with him in pass protection, but the run game [it was] just kind of getting on the same page with everybody else.”
This is Clark’s time to shine.