The Broncos have given up just five sacks to opposing defenses through the first quarter of the season. Keeping Peyton Manning upright is the name of the game for the team’s offensive line, and they’ve done a phenomenal job as demonstrated by the fact that 33 other quarterbacks have been sacked more than Manning.
To put it in perspective, Ryan Tannehill of the Dolphins has 142 pass attempts and he’s been sacked a league-high 18 times. Manning has 156 attempts.
The Broncos face one of the league’s deadliest pass rushers this weekend in DeMarcus Ware. Ware has four sacks thus far, which is 8th in the NFL. In his eight previous years, he’s only had one year (his rookie year) that he didn’t turn in double digit sack numbers. Just two years ago, he had 19.5 sacks when the season was said and done.
As much attention as Ware gets, however, the team has to pay close attention to the Cowboys front four.
“Their front four in particular is probably as good as we’ve played to date,” John Fox said. “They’ll create some problems, not just DeMarcus—the whole front four is pretty good.”
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher is getting the job done in the middle with three sacks so far.
“They have a really good defensive front—those two guys especially,” Manning said of Ware and Hatcher. “They’re good players. It’s pretty impressive with the injuries they’ve had with the defensive line, how well they’ve continued to play. It speaks to their depth. They’ve always played a number of guys, rotated in. That’s impressive, they’ve had I think three significant injuries, yet they’re still creating a lot of sacks and are disruptive against the run.”
Defensive end George Selvie also has three sacks on the year. With so many guys contributing in the sack department, Manning is going to have to get the ball out especially quick this week. Look for Wes Welker to come up big again with Manning favoring the screen pass until the Cowboys back off a bit.
This is going to be a great test for the line and one that they’ll need before they play the Chiefs twice later this year. Currently, the Chiefs are the best pass rushing team in the league with 18 sacks.