The Broncos defense came into the season with high hopes. Boasting two premier pass rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, there was talk of records falling and many among the Bronco faithful thought we would see staggering sack numbers.
I wrote before the season that the Broncos could push the team sack record of 57 set in 1984. However, this year’s team came up quite short with 41 for the season, good enough to be tied for 9th in the league. 41 is a solid number but not what many were expecting.
However, despite not coming close to the team sack record there aren’t many people complaining about the defense. After all, the D ranked #3 in total defense for the season and looks to be the most complete unit the Broncos have had in quite some time.
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In addition to the desire to break the team sack record, Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware talked before the season of wanting to have more sacks as a duo than another entire team had. The good news is that they actually accomplished that goal.
Von Miller paced the team with 14 sacks on the season, while Ware was behind him in 2nd with 10 sacks. The total of 24 sacks gave them more than three teams actually. The Bengals had the fewest with 20, followed by the Falcons and Raiders with 22.
However, I have doubts that either Von or Ware would’ve been happy with 24 combined sacks prior to the season. This was a down year for team sacks in general, as last year the Jaguars and Bears had the fewest sacks in the league with 31 each. With a normal team sack year, Von and Ware would’ve come up quite short.
So what do we make of this?
Well, not much really other than it’s just interesting.
Last year the Broncos had 41 team sacks just like this year’s team, but sacks often times don’t tell the whole story. The Defense is a significantly better unit this year than they were last year.
Dec 28, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Kayvon Webster (36) watches as defensive back Josh Bush (20) intercepts a pass intended for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes (18) in the fourth quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 47-14. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Last year the Broncos were 19th in passing Defense. This year they are 9th, but actually lead the league in yards per pass attempt since they have seen by far the most passes against them this year. They only allow 6.0 yards per attempt, best in the league by .3 yards over Seattle’s 6.3 yards per attempt.
Last year the Broncos ranked 7th in rush defense (#10 in yards per attempt). This year they rank 2nd in rush defense (#4 in yards per attempt).
Last year they gave up almost 25 points a game on Defense and this year they are just above 22 points a game.
The most impressive thing about this year’s unit and their vast improvement across the board is that this year’s schedule was significantly tougher than last year’s schedule.
Anybody who has watched the Broncos over the last two seasons can see a much, much better defensive unit this year, despite the fact that they did not produce record-breaking sack numbers.
An interesting note on sacks and how it can be a misleading stat is that this year the Bills, Eagles, Giants, Chiefs, Jets and Jaguars were all ahead of the Broncos in the top-7 in the NFL in sacks. All will be watching the playoffs from home this year.
There has been, and will be, much written about Peyton and the lack of explosiveness in the offensive passing attack, but the Broncos are much better equipped to make a run at the Super Bowl this year. This year they have a dominant defense to rely on that has been battle tested against a tough schedule.