Colts QB Andrew Luck Facing Top Ranked Broncos Defense


With any game involving the Denver Broncos, Peyton Manning is going to steal headlines. Especially when the Broncos have a game against the Indianapolis Colts — the team that drafted Manning and the city that lauds him as its most beloved sports hero — you can expect much of the attention to be on Manning and the young man who succeeded him with the Colts, Andrew Luck.

That being said, while I love the Manning-Luck hype as much as anyone, the real focus of this game in all the time I’ve thought about it this week has been the way the Broncos’ defense would play Luck and the Colts, not necessarily how well the Broncos’ offense could match Luck’s pace.

In case you don’t watch football, you might be interested to know that as great as Andrew Luck is, and as promising as his career in this league is (I believe he will be in the Hall of Fame someday), he has a tendency to throw the ball to the wrong team.

Just this season, Luck threw 16 interceptions and fumbled the ball eight times in the regular season. Now, Peyton Manning wasn’t exactly the most efficient quarterback in the league this year when it came to taking care of the football at times (he also threw 15 interceptions) but the fact is — Luck isn’t perfect.

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The Broncos have the personnel to fluster Andrew Luck, and if Brandon Marshall is healthy, I feel strongly that the Broncos’ defense can contain the tight end personnel that Indianapolis boasts as well as the plethora of running back screens they utilize. The Colts’ pass protection isn’t great, but to offset that they will use a ton of quick passes, and Luck is able to extend plays with his legs if need be.

When the Broncos first played the Colts to start this season, it seemed near impossible for them to contain Luck when he decided to run with the ball.

I don’t think it’s any secret that the Broncos have to use their speed at the linebacker position as well as safety to keep an eye on Luck at all times, and I obviously have a proposed strategy, but I’m certainly no defensive coordinator.

If Jack Del Rio were to hypothetically ask me for my input on things, I would suggest the Broncos use David Bruton a significant amount in this game. There is so much the Broncos can do with Bruton as an extra defensive back, along with Bradley Roby coming in as the nickel. The Broncos being fully healthy for this game (relatively speaking) is something that will be a huge bonus, and they’ll have a wide variety of options.

That being said, David Bruton was playing better than I have ever seen him prior to his concussion against the Raiders, and now he is practicing in full and appears in line to play in Sunday’s game. The Broncos will obviously rely on the usual cast of characters to get pressure on Luck and to create turnovers, but the contributions of Bruton, linebacker Brandon Marshall, and nickel corner Bradley Roby will be absolutely huge.

The Broncos boast the top ranked defense in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, and as Andrew Mason of points out, the storyline is not really Luck vs. Manning.

It’s so easy to get caught up in that storyline that it’s easy to forget how good the Broncos’ defense is. How good Von Miller — a former defensive MVP candidate — and his new pass rush partner in crime DeMarcus Ware are together. Or how great Terrance Knighton and Malik Jackson are on the defensive interior. Not to mention, the dominance of the Broncos’ top two cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib over the last two months of the season.

Denver fans are not used to a defense being able to carry a team. The fact is, over the last two months of the season, that has largely been the case as the Broncos adapted the offense. As I’ve said before, the Broncos aren’t just the “Mannings” anymore. It’s all about that Denver D, and Andrew Luck will certainly be a tough task yet again.

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