Denver Broncos | News

Mason's Mailbag: Measuring the excellence of the Broncos' pass defense

You can tweet questions to me with the hashtag #AskMase or use the submission form to your right (if you're viewing on a standard browser) or at the bottom of the page if you're on the mobile site.

**

Since the beginning of last season we have held several QBs to career lows in many different passing stat categories. Where does each QBs stats/passer ratings rank amongst their own respective career rankings over the last two seasons? For example; Aaron Rodgers' career-low stats from last year. There seems to never be enough perspective on how well our defense has played and how spoiled us Broncos fans are.**

-- Phillip Marshall

It's more illuminating to compare what the Broncos of the last two seasons have done against what those same quarterbacks have done in that same time span, rather than their careers. Then the evaluation is based on the quarterback's stratum at this moment, not several years ago. (Example: does Josh McCown's play a dozen years ago have any bearing on the present?)

And in this comparison, the Broncos shine. Including the postseason, the Broncos have held opposing starting quarterbacks to a 73.0 rating. Those same quarterbacks have collectively posted a 93.9 rating against all other teams in the last two years.

Of the 21 different starting quarterbacks to start against the Broncos in 2015 and 2016, only two -- New Orleans' Drew Brees and Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater -- posted a quarterback rating against Denver that surpassed their rating against the rest of the NFL.

Some of the more striking comparisons include:

  • New England's Tom Brady: 106.4 rating vs. all other teams in 2015-16, 74.8 vs. the Broncos.
  • Oakland's Derek Carr: 93.4 rating vs. all other teams; 80.7 vs. the Broncos.
  • Carolina's Cam Newton: 92.3 rating vs. all other teams; 61.7 vs. the Broncos.
  • San Diego's Philip Rivers: 95.8 rating vs. all other teams; 68.2 vs. the Broncos.
  • Kansas City's Alex Smith: 95.5 rating vs. all other teams; 75.2 vs. the Broncos.

Mase, do you think in the foreseeable future, Denver will stop trying to run the ball on third down? I understand there is always a chance for a big play on the ground, but the backs have been hit in the backfield repetitively on third-and-short. I don't see why they just don't throw the ball. Thanks.

-- Jonathan Jenkins

No.

If you simply stop trying to run the football on third down -- especially third-and-short-to-medium-yardage -- then opponents will crowd their defensive backs on your receivers before the snap and use every legal means possible to jam them within five yards of the line of scrimmage. If you completely abandon the run, you become as predictable as one of those 1970s or 1980s offenses that went "run, run, pass, punt," as my father used to grumble when he and I were in the Tampa Stadium stands watching the 1980s Buccaneers.

Further, there's no guarantee that a pass is going to work on third-and-1, anyway; the Broncos tried it on their first third-and-1 of last week's game, and Devontae Booker missed a block, leading to a sack.

Further, you can't lean on the same type of play in the same situation every time -- even if it's working. For example, quarterback sneaks have worked this season, but when you use them too often, teams start cheating linebackers over the A-gaps to overwhelm the center, and then their effectiveness diminishes.

Mase, Love reading the mailbag...However, this time I must disagree with you regarding Miller's play being enough to push him to DPOY. No Bronco player (Save for Manning) ever gets the National Attention from the Media for ANY individual award (DPOY, Rookie of the Year, MVP, HOF). It's getting old! Every time I turn on an NFL Broadcast, not only are they touting Mack for DPOY, but MVP! Last year (correct me if I'm wrong), he was All Pro, or Pro Bowl at TWO positions last year, Really? Point is I don't hear the National Media talking about Miller for any awards, much less DPOY...

-- Doug Holmes

Funny, because I've watched plenty of broadcasts of games this year in which Khalil Mack's name is not uttered. Maybe we're not watching the same games. (Of course, I don't watch pregame shows and generally won't until they ever decide to bring back Brent Musburger, Irv Cross and Phyllis George.)

You won't find an NFL market or team in which fans don't feel that their players are underrepresented for league honors, both in terms of their active careers and for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Even the Cowboys and their supporters will argue for more of their people to be in. Nobody's happy.

The Hall of Fame's relative lack of Broncos is something I've discussed in this space on multiple occasions; I see no reason to belabor the point.

As for MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, the Broncos have seen seven players honored -- or one every 6.57 seasons since the merger in the case of MVP, and since 1971 and 1972 for the defensive and offensive honors. An average team sees one of its players so honored once every 9.64 seasons, so the Broncos are above average.

Also, don't expect Mack to be an All-Pro at two spots again. That was part of a glitch in their categorization of positions that the Associated Press changed for this year.

They're not on the visible horizon, but never say never (or "ever," for that matter).

Because it was a spot foul, assessed from the point at which the penalty occurred. The illegal block occurred at the Denver 48-yard line -- three yards beyond the line to gain on third-and-7, at the Tennessee 49. A 10-yard penalty from the spot returned the football to the Titans 42 for the do-over.

Why, Wright State-Kent State, of course. Oh, wait ... a certain undefeated team from Spokane, Wash. is playing Peyton Manning's alma mater at that hour. (This question comes from the fact that I enjoy having a choice college basketball game on my iPad before a Sunday afternoon Broncos game, and Paul is my esteemed press-box neighbor.)

The resemblance is stunning.

Submit a question for the next Mailbag!

The analysis, opinion and speculation in this story represents that of the author, gathered through research and reporting, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Denver Broncos organization.

**

mailbag_1280.jpg

**

**

Related Content

Advertising