The Broncos defense needs some help.
From the beginning of the season the unit has been under a microscope. They give up too many big plays, have no pass rush and can’t cover anybody. The only reason they are not scrutinized more is because the offense scores so many points. And the fact is the Broncos are 11-3 and set to claim the No. 1 seed.
But something needs to be done with this group. In the playoffs, Denver may have to win a game 27-21 or 21-17 and the defense must to be able to give that performance. Right now, it seems like the squad could not pull that off. The Broncos will have trouble winning playoff games 45-35.
There is plenty of talent on the defense. They have a good defensive coordinator in Jack Del Rio and a head coach John Fox has a defensive background. The combination of those three things shouldn’t add up to giving up 26.6 points a game which ranks 24th in the NFL. The Broncos also rank 23rd in total defense.
There are some quick fixes for the squad to get the Broncos at least respectable for the playoffs. They are easy moves that would not be that tough to make.
Put Champ Bailey and Tony Carter back on the field
Sure, many people call Bailey washed up and Carter has been seen struggling to make tackles but they are better options than what the Broncos are putting out there. Kayvon Webster, who can actually tackle better than a lot of cornerbacks, is not ready to take over as a starter. He is getting picked on in every game. He will miss the Houston Texans game with a thumb injury.
If Bailey is healthy he is the starting corner next to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Bailey may have lost a step but he will contribute if he is ready to go. His foot injury will probably not be fully healed, but if he can play, get him out there.
Carter is a strange situation. Fox has called him one of the best cover guys last season and now he never sees the field. He is either inactive or just playing special teams. He deserves another chance and probably will get it Sunday with Webster’s injury.
End the experiment at certain positions
It is time to stop playing Paris Lenon and Omar Bolden with the starters. It is just a bad move. Lenon is not the same player that Wesley Woodyard is and Bolden is not a safety. Duke Ihenacho struggled in coverage but he still has the physical presence of a safety.
Also, the rotation of so many players during the game could lead to more of a disaster. The Broncos were called for 12 guys on the field twice and had to call a timeout to stop from it happening at third time. That is unacceptable.
Keep the players that get you there on the field. Woodyard and Ihenacho were starters from the beginning of the season. They belong on the field. Del Rio should not be messing with the chemistry of the defense two weeks before the playoffs.
Get aggressive again
The Broncos sit back and rush three or four way too much. With their suspect secondary right now, that is a bad move. Quarterbacks with time will pick them apart. Why were the Broncos so good on defense last season? An aggressive pass rush terrorized quarterbacks. That pass rush didn’t show up in the playoffs and Denver got burned. The same thing is happening now.
Denver has the players to rush the passer. Von Miller, Malik Jackson, Shaun Phillips and recently signed Jeremy Mincey are known for getting in the backfield. Don’t drop Miller into coverage, rush him every chance you get. He plays the run well, too. Miller needs to live in the backfield.
Last season, the Broncos season turned around with the comeback win in San Diego. That win was possible because of a play-making, aggressive defense. That squad needs to show up the last two weeks and in the playoffs.
The Broncos will never ever be compared with a dominant defense. But they have enough to become at least average and with this offense that should be enough. If the defense struggles though, the Broncos could be heading to another one and done.
Chris Schmaedeke is currently the Assistant Sports Editor at the Daily Camera in Boulder. He has worked in sports journalism in Colorado since 2001 when he started at the Rocky Mountain News. He has covered the Denver Broncos for several websites over the past two years.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisSchmaedeke
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