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Bills' front seven to pose 'true challenge' for Broncos, Trevor Siemian

Posted Sep 20, 2017

The Broncos won't have to worry about looking past this defensive unit.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For anyone concerned the Broncos would look past Buffalo and set their sights on a Week 4 matchup with Oakland, there’s a clear reason why Denver will have no issue getting up for their first road trip of the season.

Well, more like seven reasons.

A quick look at the Bills’ depth chart reveals a front seven that reads like a list of players that can give an offense complete fits.

Start at left defensive end with Shaq Lawson, the 2016 first-round pick.

Continue on to Kyle Williams, a five-time Pro Bowler, and Marcell Dareus, who has two Pro Bowl selections and a First-Team All-Pro nod to his name.

Look at Jerry Hughes, the former first-round pick who recorded six sacks in 2016 and has already recorded two this season.

Then move on to the linebackers, where Lorenzo Alexander waits at strong-side linebacker. The 11-year pro recorded 12.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception last season.

Preston Brown and Ramon Humber round out the group, and the pair has already recorded 32 combined tackles in two weeks.

So, yes, they have Head Coach Vance Joseph and the Broncos’ attention.

“They’ve got good players,” Joseph said. “They’ve got three Pro Bowl players in their front four. This is probably the best seven that we’ve seen all year, including the preseason. It’s going to be a true challenge for us.”

The unit to which Joseph is referring ranks second in yards allowed per game (234.5), eighth in passing yards allowed per game (177) and fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (57.5).

On a per play basis, the Bills’ defense ranks even higher, as they’ve allowed just 2.7 yards per carry (third in the NFL) and 5.8 yards per pass (tied for fourth).

Their formula?

Joseph said head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier have built their unit to present multiple looks, cause problems in protection and force opponents to become one-dimensional.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the Broncos attempt to do the very same thing.

“It’s our formula on defense,” Joseph said.

There’s only one way to beat that sort of defense, quarterback Trevor Siemian said Wednesday, and that’s to match the Bills' physicality. On the road, Siemian said, the Broncos must find a way to create a push up front and run the ball.

Against such a talented front, that’s the only real way to stay safe.

“They’re so stout, they’re aggressive, they’re fast,” Siemian said. “They’re tough inside. I mean, the whole front seven — it’s a really, really good front. So it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

When Carolina traveled to San Francisco in Week 1, it scored 23 points in Week 1 against the 49ers’ 10th-ranked defense. Against the Bills, the Panthers mustered just three field goals as Jonathan Stewart was held to just 2.7 yards per rush.

Cam Newton, who was not sacked by the 49ers, went down six times against the Bills’ pass rush.

All of those statistics have Siemian’s attention, and they help solidify the reason he won’t look past a 1-1 Buffalo team with Oakland on the horizon.

“It’s not hard for us to kind of stay focused,” Siemian said. “We’re going to Buffalo, and we’re playing probably one of the best fronts in the league this week in a tough place to play. It’s real easy for us to stay dialed in and focus on this week.”

Should the Broncos find a way to control Alexander, Williams, Dareus and the rest of the Bills’ loaded defensive line and linebacking corps, they will likely be able to move the ball and score points.

In that sense, the plan isn’t so complicated. The difficult part comes in the execution.

“It’s a real defense that we’re facing, so it’s going to be a challenge to block the front,” Joseph said. “If we can do that, we can have some success.”