On Now
Coming Up
  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM MDT Orange Night Ride

    The year's Orange Ride is scheduled for Oct. 23, 2014 with a start time of 4:30 p.m. from the Denver City and County Building. We have put together a list of activities leading up to that night's Broncos game against San Diego. We hope to see you there!
    3-4 p.m. Pregame fan rally in front of Denver City and County Building
    4:30 p.m. Ride departs Denver City and County Building to Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    5:00 p.m. Ride arrives at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    5-6 p.m. Orange Ride pregame tailgate party at Sports Authority Field at Mile High
    6:00 p.m. Orange Ride departs stadium to Tavern Downtown to watch the Broncos game
    6:25 p.m. Watch the Broncos game while enjoying Tavern Downtown’s food and drink specials
    And don't forget that the Broncos and Denver B-cycle have teamed up to offer a new bike valet service for home games for the 2014 season, giving fans a place to park their bike in a secure place staffed by B-cycle volunteers!
  • Thu., Oct. 23, 2014 6:25 PM MDT Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers The Denver Broncos take on AFC West opponent the San Diego Chargers on Thursady Night Football on NFL Network.
  • Sat., Oct. 25, 2014 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM MDT Broncos Bunch Trick-or-Treat

    Broncos Bunch Trick-or-Treat

    Sign up at http://broncosbunch.com

  • Sun., Nov. 02, 2014 2:25 PM MST Denver Broncos at New England Patriots The Denver Broncos travel to Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots in a rematch of the 2013 AFC Championship. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 09, 2014 2:05 PM MST Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders The Denver Broncos face their AFC West foe Oakland Raiders on the road. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 16, 2014 11:00 AM MST Denver Broncos at St. Louis Rams The Denver Broncos face the St. Louis Rams on the road at 11 a.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Sun., Nov. 23, 2014 2:25 PM MST Denver Broncos vs. Miami Dolphins The Denver Broncos take on the AFC East Miami Dolphins. The game will be broadcast on CBS.
  • Tue., Nov. 25, 2014 6:00 AM - 4:00 PM MST Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution Denver Rescue Mission Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution
  • Sun., Nov. 30, 2014 6:30 PM MST Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs The Denver Broncos travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face AFC West foe the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football on NBC.
  • Sun., Dec. 07, 2014 2:05 PM MST Play 60/Fuel Up to Play 60 Tribute Game Play 60/Fuel Up to Play 60 tribute game. Teams will be recognized before the team's game against the Buffalo Bills.

News & Blogs

Print
RSS

All Not Lost for D Without Miller

Posted Dec 23, 2013

Independent analyst Andrew Mason looks at how the Broncos defense will carry on without linebacker Von Miller.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the wake of Von Miller's season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Broncos' hope rests in citing their record in the six games he missed to a substance abuse suspension: 6-0.

"When he was out, we were still undefeated. We were able to still win as a team," said cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "Guys just have to step up and pick up the slack."

Replacing Miller will be a team effort. Nate Irving will fill in for the Broncos at strongside linebacker in the base defense; he handled that work in Weeks 1-6 and did so again Sunday.

For the defensive end/pass-rush part of Miller's role, Robert Ayers and Jeremy Mincey appear most likely to see an increase in repetitions, with Shaun Phillips continuing to play extensively. If and when Derek Wolfe returns from his recent health issues, he could provide some relief for Phillips at defensive end in the base defense. Malik Jackson, whose workload has increased in Wolfe's absence, could also be an option as he continues his hybrid inside-outside role.

"Anytime you take any of those caliber of players, it's more of a 'next men up' kind of approach," said Head Coach John Fox, tweaking one the philosophical maxims upon which he's leaned heavily this year.

Overall the defense is more efficient against the pass with Miller in the lineup, using comparisons that include Sunday's game:

* Yards per play: With Miller, 5.00; without, 5.80.
* Yards per pass play: With Miller, 5.51; without, 7.07.
* Percentage of pass plays that gain first downs: With Miller, 30.97 percent; without, 32.14.

But by other metrics -- particularly measuring the run -- the defense was better without Miller, although other factors such as the neck injury Wesley Woodyard suffered in Week 5, just under two games before Miller's return, and the season-ending injury to Kevin Vickerson must be noted:

* Yards per rush: With Miller, 4.36; without, 3.18.
* Percentage of runs that gain first downs: With Miller, 23.87 percent; without, 18.24.

Curiously, the Broncos' pass-rush production has been comparable:

* Quarterback hits: With Miller, one every 7.56 pass plays; without, one ever 7.51 pass plays.
* Hurries (as measured by ProFootballFocus.com): With Miller, one every 2.77 pass plays; without, one every 2.61 pass plays.
* Sacks: With Miller, one every 16.32 pass plays; without, one every 15.40 pass plays.

Some of that is due to the fact that the Broncos have replicated their pass-rush production by using their nickel linebackers (Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan) and defensive backs to blitz more often without Miller in the lineup.

The Broncos have hit opposing quarterbacks 41 times during the eight-plus games Miller played, and 41 times the rest of the season. In Miller's time, just three of the hits were by the defensive backs, Woodyard and Trevathan. When Miller was out, 13 of the hits came from those groupings: seven from Woodyard, two from Trevathan, two from Harris, one from Mike Adams and one from David Bruton.

Harris' pass-rush production might fall to Champ Bailey, who worked at the slot Sunday, which allowed for a natural limit on his repetitions as he rebuilds confidence in the left foot he injured in August.

"I’m pretty sure we’ll have a lot of games going on with the (defensive) line, be sending Champ a lot," Harris said. "That’s what we do, so I expect us to continue to do some creative stuff. On the back end, me and DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie) just got to hold up and try to by the D-Line some time."

The other factor that will help is the emergence of interior pass rushers. Defensive tackle Terrance Knighton logged just one quarterback hit and no sacks during Miller's suspension of Weeks 1-6, but has four sacks and six quarterback hits since then. Rookie Sylvester Williams has also improved recently; he has three tackles for losses and two quarterback hits the last two weeks after having just two tackles for losses and one quarterback hit in the first 13 games.

Their growth might make an increased reliance on blitzes less necessary, but Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio will lean on every possible gambit with a proper risk-reward ratio to replace Miller.

Facebook Comments

Let us know your thoughts. Comment below through Facebook, AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo accounts.