Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) during the first half against the Washington Redskins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Wesley Woodyard and Von Miller Will Key Broncos Second Half Run

It’s no question the Broncos will be able to score points as long as Peyton Manning is slinging the ball around. Even when they can only muster up seven points in three quarters, we’ve seen repeatedly that a fourth quarter barrage of scoring is not out of the question, with Denver scoring a whopping 31 points in the fourth quarter a couple of weeks ago against the Washington Redskins.

The question is, can Denver stop other teams from doing the same?

Through eight games, the Broncos are 30th in the league against the pass, which isn’t overly shocking since opposing teams have had to come back or keep pace with Denver’s high flying offense all the time.

However, giving up big plays is a concern for the Broncos, one that could very well be taken care of with the second half emergence of linebacker Von Miller, and a healthy return for team captain Wesley Woodyard.

This may sound cliche’ but the Broncos’ defense has really lacked a heart and soul since that fateful night that Al Wilson’s career ended with a neck injury (you all remember), but Woodyard has really taken over that role.

It’s pretty amazing what difference Woodyard makes for the Broncos. Even with Von Miller back from his suspension against the Indianapolis Colts, the team’s only loss this season came in a game where Woodyard was absent from the lineup.

Not only that, but almost inarguably the most infuriating performance of the season (which came in a win) against Jacksonville was Woodyard’s first game out with injury as well.

I am not trying to diminish the value of any other player on the Broncos’ defense, but having Woodyard makes all the difference in the world for this team, and it’s going to be him and Von Miller who key a second half run for this Denver Broncos team.

Woodyard is going to get a handsome raise after this season with the Broncos, and if they choose to let him go you had better believe there will be an uproar.

The Broncos had both Woodyard and Miller on the field against the Washington Redskins the week before the bye, and it was no coincidence that they played their most dominant game defensively against a team that is very capable of putting up 35-50 points in any given week.

Of course, turnovers inflated the final score for the Redskins, being that they scored one touchdown off of a strip-sack-fumble by Peyton Manning and then another seven points on a pick-six. Factoring the long drive where Denver got out of trouble by forcing a field goal on the Redskins’ longest drive of the game that was negated by a 12-men on the field penalty, I’d have to say I was most impressed that week by what the Broncos were able to do on the defensive side of the ball, which included an interception for a touchdown by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

With John Fox out for a month or more, it remains to be seen what will change about the Broncos’ defensive game plan, but one thing is certain–Woodyard and Miller will be absolutely huge if the Broncos’ defense is to have a resurgence in the second half. Miller being the Broncos’ best pass rusher and Woodyard being the Broncos’ best all-around defender and leader on that side of the ball.

I’m not afraid to say it.

These are the Broncos’ superstars, and if they are going to make a Super Bowl run, they need to play like it.

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Tags: Denver Broncos Von Miller Wesley Woodyard

  • DXW

    Not worried about the Bronco’s defense in the least. When Von Miller was suspended, everyone was talking about how Denver was going to go 3-3 without him. The fact they pulled it together to win all those games was impressive despite the numbers. There has been a big improvement over the last couple games, and I’m sure it’s only going to get better. Judging this defense based on those first six games is meaningless.

  • anon76returns

    Check it out, even counting the Indy game, Denver has been on a tear defensively since Von got back. They’ve gone from 15th in MMQB’s pressure points rating (% of passing snaps on which the D gets pressure on the QB) to #7- that’s a HUGE jump in just 2 games (it’s a cumulative statistic, so all the sub-par performances before Von’s return still count).

    I went ahead and calculated out several of the passing statistics for the Broncos’ D before and after Von’s return, and the projected them out to a full 16 game season (the 6 games without Von, plus 10 games with the same statistics as the Indy and Washington games). Here’s how they’d be ranked:
    opponents completion percentage 56.8%, ranked 4th (compared to 58.8%, ranked 8th now)
    opponents yards per attempt 6.6, ranked 7th (compared to 7.8, ranked 25th now)
    opponents yards per completion 11.7, ranked 14th (compared to 13.2, ranked 32nd & dead last now)
    opponents yards per game 241, ranked 13th (compared to 299, ranked 30th now)
    opponents QB rating 73.6, ranked 3rd (compared to 82.3, ranked 10th now)

    defensive pressure % 33.95% ranked 1st (compared with 28.6%, ranked 7th now)
    Add to this the fact that Broncos are already ranked #1 in interceptions and passes defensed, and #3 in opponents yards per carry rushing, and they’ll be right back as a top 5 unit.

    Even with Woodyard gone against Indy, the Denver defense was already leaps and bounds better with Von back. One can only imagine what will happen when they play opposing QBs that lack RGIII’s talent level and Luck’s refinement (Pryor, Locker, Smith, and possibly Keanum, I’m looking at you).