Broncos pass rush once again an embarrassment of riches


Led by Von Miller, the Denver Broncos’ pass rush has gotten better and better since the 2011 season. Heading into the 2015 season, Miller is as healthy as he’s ever been, in the best shape he’s ever been in, and he has DeMarcus Ware coming back for a second year with the team.

Ware’s presence on one side along with the dominance of Miller gives the Broncos a ferocious duo off the edge, but much of what they are able to do in the pass rush department is going to come from the pressure created by the defensive interior and guys like Malik Jackson, Sylvester Williams, Derek Wolfe, Antonio Smith, Vance Walker, and Kenny Anunike.

Or, I guess, the whole defensive line.

Unlike years past, the Broncos have upgraded their depth off the edge significantly. Before, it felt like it was almost just Von and ‘some other guy’. Last year, it was DeMarcus Ware, so the ‘other guy’ was a future Hall of Famer. This year, it’s Von, Ware, first round pick Shane Ray, and breakout sophomore Shaquil Barrett.

Ray’s ability to create pressure off the edge is obvious, but people have still been sleeping on Barrett, who was a late addition to the active roster last year and a player that has shed 7 percent body fat in order to gain quickness and ultimately, better overall athletic ability.

Barrett’s pass rush prowess was on display in his time with the Colorado State Rams, but coming to the Broncos as an undrafted free agent, there’s no doubt the hill was going to be tough to climb.

After scaring everyone by placing him on waivers, the Broncos luckily were able to retain the services of Barrett all season, and now he appears poised for a sure-fire spot on the 53-man roster.

Against the Seattle Seahawks, Barrett was incredibly explosive and made a couple of really nice plays, including a sack on Seattle’s backup QB Tarvaris Jackson. He exploited a missed blocking assignment and ruined another pass play, and showed at times that his quickness and timing off the snap are simply too good for opposing offensive linemen to handle.

Along with the emergence of Barrett, we got to see some of what Shane Ray brings to the table against the Seahawks. Ray had one play in particular that I really enjoyed against the Seattle first string, where he worked his way inside very quickly on a pass rush forced the pocket to move up, and Malik Jackson was there to clean up for the sack after beating the tackle on a second effort.

It was Ray’s continued effort against Russell Okung that caused Russell Wilson to try and avoid pressure.

Over the course of a 16 game season plus the playoffs, having this kind of depth in the pass rush is something the Broncos have to be incredibly excited about. There will be no rest throughout games for opposing offensive lines.

Next: Broncos vs. Seahawks: 3 stars