Three things the Broncos can do to improve their pass rush

Sep 18, 2019, 6:45 AM

The Broncos defense was supposed to be great under head coach Vic Fangio. So far after two games, that hasn’t been the case, as this team has yet to record a sack and has only hit the opposing quarterback two times in 120 minutes of football.

Nobody was expecting this type of results from this defense. I felt that with pass-rushers like Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, this defense would be harassing quarterbacks early and often. We knew going into this season that the offense would have some struggles, but we all expected the defense would lead the way with pressure, sacks, turnovers and defensive scores.

So, what has happened to this defense after just two weeks? Can things be fixed or is this the new reality for the Broncos?

Here are three things the Broncos can do to improve their pass rush:


3. Get Todd Davis Back

There is no doubt that the return of inside linebacker Todd Davis will help. Davis is one of the smartest players on defense and he can diagnose the play quickly as it unfolds in front of him.

During the first two weeks of the regular season, we’ve seen opposing quarterbacks throw less as their offense runs more to wear down the Broncos defense. In addition to challenging the stamina of the defense, running the ball more means teams are keeping Miller and Chubb at bay. This is certainly by design and something we should see most every team adopt as the best game plan to attack this Broncos defense.

Not only is Davis important for what he can do in stuffing the run, but his leadership on the field is exemplary.

“It is important. Todd exhibited that last week during practice once. You have to remember Todd hadn’t practiced since I think it was the first day of training camp he got hurt, so I haven’t seen a lot of Todd recently. He exhibited some leadership out there on the practice field. I believe it was last Wednesday. I saw it firsthand then, so I think yes, his leadership would be welcomed,” Fangio said.

Davis can help this team stuff the run. If an opponent cannot move the ball on the ground, then they will be forced to go through the air. When that happens, it puts the Broncos defense at an advantage because guys like Miller and Chubb can go hunt.


2. Middle Rush Please

The other thing this team needs is a better pass rush from the interior of the defensive line. With the edge rushers negated due to quick passing, this team needs to create more interior pressure.

That means guys like Derek Wolfe, Shelby Harris and Adam Gotsis have more on their plate. No longer are they guys who stuff the run or keep containment. This team needs them to generate interior pressure as that is a killer for quarterbacks who want to get rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds.

Wolfe knows the complications of getting after a quarterback who throws quickly.

“I mean, the quarterbacks throwing the ball quick, what do you want us to do? I’m tired of hearing the fans moan about us not getting sacks when the ball is gone in two seconds. There’s no sacks to be had. When they have the lead, they’re not just going to sit back and drop back to pass. It’s just the way it goes,” Wolfe said.

The average time before pass after two weeks is 2.76 seconds, but quarterbacks against the Broncos have been throwing it quicker than that mark. In Week 1, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had a TbP of 2.43 seconds. In Week 2, Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky had a TbP of 2.88 seconds on average. It’s tough to get home when teams are purposely throwing the ball sooner than your guys can get there.

Interior pressure is the key. The Broncos are mostly a zone defense under Fangio, so those guys up front have to make a quarterback uncomfortable as often as they can.


1.Play With a Lead

The biggest thing the Broncos can do to help out their pass rush is to establish a lead on offense and the sooner the better. In two games, the Broncos have been ahead for less than 12 minutes of action. All of that came against the Bears in Week 2, as the Broncos never had the lead against the Raiders in Week 1.

“We’ve been behind in both games. Albeit (against the Bears) it was 6-3 or 3-0, 3-3 for a long time, so it wasn’t like it was grossly behind. I think it’s just going to be a combination of getting in better situations,” Fangio said.

It’s not only getting a lead, but it’s also having the ball for a longer period of time. If the Broncos can win the time of possession battle, then it will help keep their defense fresh. By controlling the clock, this team can put pressure on an opponent simply because they’ll have fewer plays to run.

ESPN’s Jeff Legwold put out a very telling stat about Joe Flacco on Monday. He revealed that 40 of Flacco’s 56 completions in the first two games have gone for 10 or fewer yards. Part of that is lack of protection for Flacco, but part of that is a lack of deep shots by this team. Perhaps some deep shots, some field-flipping plays can set up this offense to score more touchdowns.

The offense needs to help out this Broncos defense. They can do that by getting into the end zone instead of kicking field goals. The challenge will be tough all season long as the schedule doesn’t do them any favors, but if they can be more explosive offensively it will make a huge difference on the defensive side of the ball.


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Three things the Broncos can do to improve their pass rush