Through the first three games, the Broncos’ strategy against pretty run-heavy teams has been to force the quarterback to beat them.
So far, so good.
Still, as good as the Broncos’ run defense has been, the pass D has allowed some big plays to happen, and allowing big plays is not going to fly against Mike Vick and the Eagles.
The Broncos’ run-D has been as stout as I have seen it in recent years, but you can’t fully expect arguably the best running back in the game right now in LeSean McCoy to be completely stymied when the Eagles come to take on the Broncos.
McCoy will likely get his, but the Broncos can limit him. Not only is Denver very strong up the middle of their defense (and deep), but the linebackers have excellent speed and instincts, and are able to cover a lot of ground sideline to sideline.
Where the Broncos are going to need to tighten up–as the title of the article states–is in the secondary.
The Eagles are missing one very key piece of their offense in Jeremy Maclin, who tore his knee up at training camp this offseason, but they still have some guys who can blow the top off of a defense. Namely, DeSean Jackson is still roaming around out there for Philly, and the Eagles have done a pretty good job despite some iffy pass protection again this year to find creative ways to let Vick air it out and get the ball downfield.
The biggest matchup they will look to exploit is the speed of Jackson and the ability of their other receivers to play underneath. Philadelphia isn’t going to hit a bunch of deep passes against a well-coached defense like the Broncos, but the pass defense needs to be ready.
I’m not sure exactly what kind of breakdown happened against the Oakland Raiders, but it’s likely the Broncos were so focused on taking away the Raiders’ main strength (which they absolutely did) that Terrelle Pryor had more throwing lanes than he normally does.
Pryor is still an NFL quarterback and capable of extending plays and making throws, but the Broncos’ D–despite the injuries–ought to have been more effective against the pass.
Vick and McCoy are a much better version of what the Raiders brought to the table, so Denver is going to need to find a way to get pressure on Vick, make plays in the backfield, and force a couple of turnovers to get the kind of momentum they need to keep Philly in check.
If Champ Bailey could play, that’d be great.