Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos strong safety Quinton Carter (38) linebacker Lamin Barrow (57) defensive end Malik Jackson (97) defensive tackle Marvin Austin (76) and defensive tackle Terrance Knighton (98) line up in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
NFL fans will hear weird or unbelievable statistics every single day, and the more information that is available to the public, the crazier these facts get. In particular, this stat over the Broncos’ first two games from Andrew Mason at DenverBroncos.com had my mind absolutely blown.
In two games, the Broncos have used 69 different personnel groupings defensively, and that’s not even the most or second most in the league.
That’s 69 different personnel groupings. To me, that is a staggering number. To NFL teams, that might be a bit above the norm. I find it fascinating but also not overly surprising when you take into account injuries, game situations, and different looks offensively that are being thrown at you.
The starting 11 combination of players is something that is going to be constantly changing, and with even just 20-23 guys defensively suited up on a given weekend, the Broncos have managed nearly 70 different combinations of those players in different looks and packages.
Playing out of the nickel a good amount of time, the Broncos don’t have to use three linebackers very often, but they have the option to do so and Jack Del Rio is fortunate enough that he’s able to use so many different personnel groupings with the talent the Broncos have assembled.
The high number of different groupings is also a testament to the versatility these Broncos players bring to the table. We’ve seen the Broncos use safety T.J. Ward as a middle linebacker, we’ve seen them use Malik Jackson at defensive end or tackle, we’ve seen plenty of rotation at cornerback from Aqib Talib all the way to Tony Carter, and we’ve seen guys like Quanterus Smith and Marvin Austin play significant snaps.
With so much talent on the defensive side of the ball, it makes sense that the Broncos would try to keep legs fresh at all times, but they haven’t quite found that magic mixture of players yet that is getting their offense the ball back quickly all the time.
At any rate, the Broncos hope they have the winning combination of defenders against Seattle on Sunday, and the guys better be ready for speed. Seattle, aside from Marshawn Lynch, who is just a beast, has some of the fastest players in the NFL at the quarterback and skill positions. They need to find ways to keep Russell Wilson in the pocket, and then prevent him from being able to extend plays by stepping up and evading the pressure all together.
If the Broncos can contain Wilson, they’ll be able to contain the Seahawks’ offense, which wears you down with the running game and then hits you with a big play downfield.
The Broncos know all too well, but it will be much different this time around. Apparently, more so than we could have known.