QB Stats that Prove the Dominance of the Denver Broncos Defense

Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) celebrates the win over the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Colts 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) celebrates the win over the Indianapolis Colts at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Colts 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

If you’re not big on numbers and more of a fan of images, here is a quick summary of this column:

Much has been made of the dominant Denver defense, but I’m here to argue that the praise has not been effusive enough. Sure, everyone is familiar with how they obliterate offenses into smithereens, but who they have annihilated has not been much of a focus. Since Wade Phillips took over this defense, they have faced only two quarterbacks I would not consider to be good: Josh McCown and AJ McCarron.

Other than those two schlubs, every single quarterback the Broncos have stared down is good enough to win a Super Bowl given the right conditions. Don’t believe me? Here’s the full list: Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Jay Cutler, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Cam Newton. If Joe Flacco can win a Super Bowl, so can anyone else in that group.

So how dominant have the Broncos been? Let’s take a look:

AFC West

The most consistently difficult opponents to beat are the ones in your division, since they are most familiar with the players and concepts of each team. Logic would seem to dictate that if anyone had a leg up on this ferocious defense, it would be the offenses who see them the most, right? Wrong.

AFC West QB’s underperform the average against Wade Phillips’ band of banshees, as they complete 56.7% of their passes, averaging 6.23 yards per attempt, while throwing 6 TD’s versus 4 INT’s. Nick Foles was benched for Case freaking Keenum for putting up nearly the same stat line last year.

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Young QB’s

Quarterbacks still on their rookie contract have actually faired pretty well against the Broncos once you take into account that only one QB has had any measure of success against them. The Broncos have played six games against Derek Carr, AJ McCarron, Teddy Bridgewater, and Andrew Luck (who would be on the last year of his rookie contract had he not signed a monster extension in the offseason), and their numbers surpass the elite QB’s efforts against this defense.

Luck, Carr, McCarron, and Bridgewater completed 58.6% of their passes for 5.9 yards per attempt. That completion percentage would be league average during the ground and pound 90’s, and the yards per attempt would qualify as middle of the road in 1938 – right around the time the downfield pass was invented.


In 21 games dating back to the beginning of last season, all quarterbacks have completed 57.9% of their passes averaging 6.21 yards per attempt, with 22 touchdowns versus 19 interceptions, and have taken 72 sacks (3.4 per game).

A league average quarterback last year completed 63% of his passes for 7.3 yards per attempt, with a 1.6 to 0.9 TD-INT ratio. The No Fly Zone basically makes every QB about 10% worse than the Kyle Orton’s of the world.

Brady, Big Ben, Rodgers, Rivers, Luck, Cam

If we whittle that list down to just the superstar quarterbacks, the numbers actually get worse (and yes, Phillip Rivers is still a superstar quarterback, lest we forget that he nearly ripped our hearts out in the divisional round a few years ago and is still performing at that same level). Here’s a fun game:

Player A: 59.8% completion, 6.5 yards per attempt, 0.95 TD-INT ratio, 2.81 sacks per game

Player B: 59.2% completion, 6.5 yards per attempt, 1.26 TD-INT ratio, 1.74 sacks per game

Player C: 56.7 % completion, 6.3 yards per attempt, 1.44 TD-INT ratio, 3.45 sacks per game

A and B are the illustrious career numbers for infamous first round busts Tim Couch and EJ Manuel, and C is the collective figure for the aforementioned six quarterback studs. Let’s trim the list down even more.

Brady, Rodgers, Rivers, Luck, Cam

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  • Big Ben is the outlier in the previous group of guys, as he is the only QB to carve up the Broncos defense. Take him out and the numbers really start to get staggering. Let’s keep going.

    Player A: 56.7% completion, 6.7 yards per attempt, 1.06 TD-INT ratio, 2.38 sacks per game

    Player B: 62.2% completion, 7 yards per attempt, 1.33 TD-INT ratio, 2.27 sacks per game

    Player C: 53.2% completion, 5.9 yards per attempt, 1.57 TD-INT ratio, 3.55 sacks per game

    A is Mark Sanchez’s entire career, B is what Brian Griese did in Denver that caused us to run him out of town, and C are the five QB’s. If you think that’s bad, just wait until you see what’s next.

    Brady, Rodgers, Cam

    If you ask anyone who the best quarterback in football is, their answer will vacillate between one of these three. If you didn’t know anything about the NFL and just looked at these guys’ numbers against the No Fly Zone, you would think that anyone arguing they were the best needed to be committed to a mental institution. This is about to get real dark. Let’s finish our last A, B, C quiz:

    Player A: 51.5% completion, 5.8 yards per attempt, 1.25 TD-INT ratio, 3.8 sacks per game

    Player B: 55.8% completion, 6 yards per attempt, 1.09 TD-INT ratio, 2.59 sacks per game

    Player C: 52.1% completion, 6 yards per attempt, 0.78 TD-INT ratio, 2.25 sacks per game

    B is walking punchline Blaine Gabbert’s entire career, C is JaMarcus Russell’s short lived Hindenburgesque stint in the NFL, and A are the collective stats of the three best QB’s in the game against the Broncos defense. As a disgraced former Sportscenter anchor put it: Sweet Sassy Molassey! These guys can play!