Broncos Defense Heating Up Entering the Playoffs

Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey (24) warms up before the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Topics: Defense, Denver Broncos

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  • Cheyenne Kid

    I agree they are playing better. Just took time to start watching the first half of the Raider Game. (NO thanks to CBS) and noticed the mass exit and entrance early in that game. And it’ll also have the benefit of keeping fresher players on the field. Shows just how deep in talent we are. Keep up the masterful chess game Del Rio and defense play lights out for three more games and help the Lombardi being Denver Bound in February!

  • doc holiday

    All I can see are those long bombs from Flaco,100+ yard KO returns,going into Prevent 3 man rush schemes which a good qb will slaughter and kick the winning FG. If they do it again the entire defense,special teams and coaches should be sent packin’.

  • anon76returns

    I was just making this point earlier today to Soriano. Here’s a look at some of the stats that back up your narrative:

    Over the last 4 games, the D gave up more than 255 yards only once, and never gave up more than 200 yards passing.
    Of the 82 points given up in those games, 17 came from drives<20 yards or in garbage time, meaning the starting D held opponents to 13.75 points/game.
    Facing 4 teams that averaged 352 yards off/game, the Broncos gave up 272 yards/game.
    Facing 4 teams that rushed for an average of 119 yards/game and 4.2 yards/carry, the D gave up 106 yards/game and 3.8 yards/carry.
    Facing 4 teams that averaged 234 yards pass/game, 6.7 yards/attempts, and a 82 passer rating, the Broncos gave up 166 yards/game, 6.0 yards/attempt, and a 78 passer rating (which was helped considerably by Pryor's 2 garbage time TDs).

    Those stats would all be leading the league, or at least in the top 3 if carried out over the season. To put it in more perspective, the same teams against (respectively) San Francisco, Kansas City, Seattle, and Indianapolis (all playoff bound teams with a top 10 scoring/yardage/both defense) put up 137 more passing yards per game, 18 more rushing yards per game, and 3 more points per game.
    All things being said, I'm actually feeling pretty good about how the Broncos' D is playing going into the postseason- as you say, they're heating up.

  • scotthumble

    The more that the opposition buys into the narrative that the defense is a weak link, the better. I’m a little surprised that I haven’t seen an article like this up to now. Underestimating Denver’s defense could be a fairly significant mistake for many teams in the post season.