It’s officially the first week of the NFL playoffs, and a defensive resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time for the Denver Broncos.
The Broncos have started using some different personnel groupings, which has helped, but playing two bad teams can’t hurt either.
While setting numerous significant NFL records on the offensive side of the ball, the defense for Denver really struggled in 2013. There were injuries, inconsistencies, big mental errors, and just a general lot of points given up this season for the “Orange Crush” as it were.
But, as everyone knows, it’s not about who plays the best regular season defense, its what defense can get hot at the right time and make plays when it has to. The Broncos’ defense may be doing just that, having averaged 27 points allowed per game in the regular season while giving up only 27 total over the course of the last two games.
Of course, teams score garbage points against the Broncos. Some teams just flat out scored a lot, and some teams had no business scoring as many points as they did. The Broncos were hurt pretty badly on that side of the ball this year, spending a majority of the season without Champ Bailey, and losing other players like Von Miller, Rahim Moore, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson, as well as others along the way.
The Denver defense was beat up, but in the last two games, they seem to have made necessary adjustments to find a combination that works, and works very well.
The Broncos have used a variety of sub-packages for different game scenarios, and the different personnel groupings have proven to be quite successful. Obviously, you looks at the success they’ve had since Champ Bailey came back into the lineup healthy where he plays the nickel role and Chris Harris plays the outside, it’s been a great look defensively for the Broncos.
Using different personnel groupings has given the Broncos new life and a mass exodus off the field when different packages are called in. Jack Del Rio has been handed lemons, and for lack of a more appropriate metaphor, he’s made lemonade.
The Broncos aren’t getting a great pass rush like they would with Von Miller on the field at all times, but they are able to use their athletic linebackers and defensive backs on blitzes to get pressure on the opposing QBs. The front seven is also very deep, even without Von and Vickerson so the Broncos are able to rotate a large group of linemen and play them in different scenarios.
I’m not calling this unit out as one of the best in the league or anything, but they are making plays and getting the offense plenty of opportunities. Here’s hoping that success lasts throughout the playoffs.