The Denver Broncos–not unlike most NFL teams–have been absolutely crushed by injuries in 2013. Luckily, the Broncos are good enough and deep enough that they have been able to win an AFC-best 11 games despite those injuries, but at this point in the season, they are really starting to pile up, especially for the defensive side of the ball.
It all started with Stewart Bradley, one of the team’s free agent acquisitions, going down with a wrist injury, and it has just gone downhill from there. Rookie pass rushers Lerentee McCray and Quanterus Smith were both placed on IR before the season, as was safety Quinton Carter, who missed the entire 2012 season as well with an injury.
Then you had safety Rahim Moore go down with a rare leg condition called Compartment Syndrome, but at least he’s been designated to return. At least the Broncos had the teeth in the middle of their defense to stop the run, but that was also derailed by a season-ending injury to Kevin Vickerson, a guy who wasn’t receiving high grades from Pro Football Focus, but obviously they were wrong about that because his absence has been huge.
The Broncos have also been missing Champ Bailey for much of the season, and have had to use a variety of combinations at every level of the defense.
In recent weeks, they’ve lost Derek Wolfe since just before the Kansas City game, when he experienced seizure-like symptoms and has been kept out since then. Wolfe’s status remains unknown, and following a loss to the Chargers, the Broncos learned that Kayvon Webster would have to have surgery on a broken thumb.
The rookie was abused by Philip Rivers on TNF, but he’s been playing well this season otherwise.
Anyway, I lost count as I typed that all out, but that’s at least 65 defenders that have been injured this season for Denver, either placed on IR, IR/Designation to return, or the temporary IR that was created by Champ Bailey, a not-so-exclusive club that so many other Denver defenders have been part of at one point or another this season.
I realize that injuries happen in the NFL, but give me a break (HAHA, PUNNY).
In all seriousness, how much longer can “Next Man Up” work? Is it working at all? I’m not so sure. The Broncos are deep, but even a team as good as they are can’t handle that many injuries defensively. It’s time to get healthy some way or another, and the Broncos have to figure it out quickly as the playoffs are fast approaching.