“I think that’s about as many times as I’ve seen a quarterback get hit.” Mike Ditka, on ESPN, regarding the Denver Broncos defensive effort vs the Washington Redskins.
The Broncos defense indeed showed a resurgence on Sunday, due in large part no doubt to the fact that for the first time all season, Von Miller and Wesley Woodyard were on the field at the same time. Redskins quarterback RG3 was hit, harassed, chased, and confounded all afternoon, then pulled from the game. Denver sacked Washington QBs (including backup Kirk Cousins) 3 times, knocked them on the ground 14 times, caused 4 interceptions including a pick-6, a sack/ fumble, and a combined QBR rating of 38.2. Robert Griffin III was held to 154 yards passing and a measly 7 rushing yards. And this was a Redskins offense that was up-and-coming recently as RG3 got back in the groove, one that just a week earlier vs. the Bears vaunted defense, put up 499 yards and scored 38 offensive points as RG3 passed for 298 yards and rushed for another 84. The Redskins really only had one sustained drive all afternoon vs Denver that resulted in a touchdown, as a 3rd-quarter mini-meltdown by the Broncos offense resulted in 2 quick Washington scores.
“Without a doubt I think that was our best defensive outing (of the season). We challenged our guys all week and I think they responded great,” coach John Fox said. “That was a good starting point and we have the bye at the halfway point of the season, so we’re gonna be smart and we’re gonna get some guys healthy.”
Defensive stats can be a bit misleading, but it’s an obvious strategy that opposing offenses would try to keep the ball away from Peyton Manning and this high-octane offense by establishing a running game. The Broncos have held up very well and are very stout, ranking 3rd in the NFL vs. the rush. The defensive stats vs the pass are not where we’d like them to be, but again, misleading in that opponents attempt to run the ball early, find little success, then the Broncos begin to pile up the TDs, and suddenly teams are forced to pass the ball and try to play catch-up. That said, there are bright spots in pass-defense: Despite 6 weeks without Von Miller, our pass-rusher extraordinaire, the defense still managed to rank 11th in the league in sacks. With Von Miller’s return last week, and now with Wesley Woodyard back from his injury suffered 3 weeks ago, this defense is only going to improve as we get into crunch-time.
The Broncos defense ranked 2nd overall and 4th in points allowed last year, and are more than capable of getting back to that level, so this bye-week comes at a great time as the team is getting healthier. With the improving defense and this powerhouse of an offense (I don’t even need to get into the legendary numbers put up on that side of the ball!), this is a team well on track to steamroll into the playoffs and use the disappointing playoff loss last season as a similar chip on its’ shoulder and catalyst that the 1997 Broncos used as motivation and a mission to capture the next 2 Superbowl titles back-to-back.
The Mile High City is feeling very “Super” about this team, and the next half of the season is going to memorable!
Brian, Bronco Planet Blogger