Defense Musings


Dennis Allen is the new defensive coordinator in Denver.  I believe it is time for us all to shoot our pistols in the air and celebrate.  Why?  Well, not because of Dennis Allen himself, but because we can stop fretting over the coaching staff.  I think we all are a little disappointed we couldn’t land Jim Mora, but alas that is football and it was his decision after all.  Anyways, with John Fox as the head coach and Dennis Allen as the DC feel free to dump your life savings on betting that the Broncos will be a 4-3 defensive scheme next year.

With that being said, I wish to look at some interesting tidbits here and there.  For instance, what to be excited about and what to dread.  In this article we’ll take a quick look at the 4-3 and what it means, we’ll look at the Elvis Dumervil and how this may impact him, we’ll do a quick background check on Dennis Allen and John Fox, and we’ll take a glance at Da’Quan Bowers‘ scouting report.

First: The 4-3 defensive scheme.  The most important fact to know right off the bat is that no team in the NFL runs their scheme every single play.  The Broncos were notorious for flip flopping during Mike Shanahan‘s final years.  Although the base was 4-3, you would get a 3-4 look once in awhile.  Josh McDaniels was no exception either.  Regardless, yes the base formation will be 4-3, but don’t be surprised to see a 3-4 every once in awhile.

Ok, the 4-3 defense is just a way of saying, four linemen in the three point stance with three linebackers.  In the 3-4, the NT was a center piece of the defense.  The Broncos never really got a top notch NT.  But in the 4-3, the center piece is the Mike Linebacker which figures to be D.J. Williams.  Williams has played here before, but with all the different DC’s in the last six years, Williams has played almost every linebacker position.  The main strength of this defense is for it to be well suited to stop the run.  In the 3-4, there was a position called the outside linebacker which our beloved Elvis Dumervil played.  The idea was that the DT would eat up two O-Linemen while the DE’s would push forward and close the pocket thus allowing the OLB from either side to rush in and make the sack.  It’s obviously more complicated than this but I just wanted to sum it up.  So this leads me to my next point…

Second: Elvis Dumervil is not going to like the 4-3 (or at least he shouldn’t).  Listen, Dumervil was quick, short, and was just impossible to handle due to his leverage and so he would almost always win his match-ups.  But the 3-4 is built to rush the passer, the 4-3 is built to stop the run.  Elvis Dumervil will now be specializing in run stuffing and not QB sacking.  People think this is ridiculous and wish to believe Dumvervil will be just as successful in the 4-3 as the 3-4.  I beg to differ and here’s why:  In the three years he played the 4-3 for the Broncos he totaled 26 sacks in the three seasons after playing 45 games.  That’s an average of 8.5 sacks a season.  His best season he had 12.5 sacks.  Now, granted that is still pretty good, but that is not 17 sacks and it is definitely not 45 million dollars worthy.  However, I will give Dumervil an out on this one.  The defenses were horrible each of those years and he was getting up to NFL speed.  His 2007 season really sticks out though and that was his second season.  So I guess time will tell.

Third: Dennis Allen was the secondary coach at New Orleans.  So yet again the Broncos have hired an unproven DC.  Granted, the Saints had a good defense and Dennis Allen was responsible for coaching Darren Sharper who had two excellent seasons since he was signed to the Saints.  But I believe that this really points to the fact that the relationship between Dennis Allen and John Fox will be the same as Josh McDaniels and Mike McCoy.  John Fox will be the DC and Dennis Allen will be the assistant in retrospect.  This I am ok with.  John Fox has had success with defenses and from what I understand, that was John Elway‘s game plan.  So again, I guess only time will tell.

Fourth: The Broncos potential number one pick Da’Quan Bowers.  Bowers is projected to be the number one DE in the entire draft.  Some mock drafts have Bowers going to Carolina number one overall.  But there are a lot of drafts out there that have Carolina taking a much needed QB.  Regardless, Nick Fairley just doesn’t make sense for the Broncos to draft.  If we are going to be a 4-3 defense, then you want your defense to have strong quick DE’s.  Bowers is just that.  His scouting report has him listed at 6’4″ and 275 lbs.  He had 15 sacks with 66 tackles in 2010 and started all 13 games.  But buyer beware.  This was his only good season and we have a similar player already on the team, Robert Ayers, who had a break out year.  The scouting report has him as the most complete DE with strong presence on the line, competitive and dominating, quick and smart, as well as great at stopping the run.  The Broncos will see the “great at stopping the run.”  Being the worst defense in the NFL in almost every category, getting a guy who can stop the run is essential.  Fundamentals of defense, protect the edge, stop the run, and get to the QB.  Bowers can do all three.  However, there is a name out there, Marcell Dareus, who is actually projected by some scouts to be better than Bowers.  The difference though is that Bowers is better at stopping the run than Dareus is which will probably be the biggest seller.  I can’t say I’m completely sold though with Bowers.  Watching some clips I began to notice he doesn’t have very good form.  He stands up and charges.  I almost have to say that a big part of his success was the lack of talent in his competitors.  Dareus is likened to that of Ndamukong Suh (which is huge), but not as dominant.  Either way, both players are said to have good moderate work ethic which I guess is all you can assume from DE’s.  Just as long as none of them are Albert Haynesworth.  Bowers however is a John Fox type player, so it might be safe to say he will be on the roster after April.

Go Broncos!