The Denver Broncos are giving up 123.4 rushing yards per game. While that’s not the worst in the NFL, their 23rd ranked rushing defense leaves a lot of room for improvement.
The Broncos have faced some very talented running backs in Darren McFadden, Cedric Benson, and Ryan Mathews. They have also had to worry about stopping arguably the best quarterback in the league in Aaron Rodgers, so it’s easy to see why the Broncos have been having trouble stopping the run.
“We’ve got to stop the run better,” defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. “Like I said it’s all about consistency.”
The Broncos gave up a whopping 206 yards on the ground to the San Diego Chargers. That will tire any defense out.
“I think we played 80 snaps in the game the other day,” Allen said. “We probably played 65 of them pretty good. There’s a few snaps in the game that we didn’t play good enough, and at the end of the day, against good teams, they exploit that and make big plays.”
Those big plays included giving up a 36-yard run to Mathews.
The Broncos have been dinged up front all season long. It started when free agent Ty Warren was placed on the IR with a triceps tear. Marcus Thomas injured his pectoral muscle in training camp and has only played in one regular season game. Kevin Vickerson was placed on the IR this week with a right ankle injury.
The Broncos are now left with Thomas and Ryan McBean as the starting defensive tackles. Even though Thomas has played in just one game, he leads the defensive tackles in tackles with 8. McBean also has 8 tackles, but he has played in all 5 games this season.
If improvement is going to come, it’s going to have to start up front. In the Broncos next game, they must face Daniel Thomas who is averaging 101.0 yards in his two games. Then comes Jahvid Best and McFadden once again.
In other words, there’s no time to wait around for the run defense to get better. Bye weeks often separate the good teams from the great teams, the teams who are capable of picking up steam as the season goes on from the teams that eventually get left in the dust.
Defensive stops all start up front. At that’s where football games are won as well.