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.