Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

Broncos’ bottom-five run defense “an easy fix”

Zac Stevens Avatar
November 10, 2016


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos are coming off of their worst performance of the season defending the run, 218 yards to the Oakland Raiders. It’s a phase of the game that the team has struggled with all season long, and it’s beginning to cause panic within the fanbase.

Panic, though, is hardly a work in the vocabulary of the entire Broncos locker room. In fact, defensive end Jared Crick isn’t worried about the run defense a bit.

“There are a lot of plays where we’re getting double teamed up front and we’re either losing our footing or not being strong at the point,” he said. “It’s an easy fix. We’ve been capable of playing those type of runs all year long. I expect us to get back on track. [Against the Raiders] was just one of those times with the snowball effect.”

To say it was an off game for the Broncos’ front seven may be an understatement. According to the Raiders left tackle Donald Penn, Oakland ran the same running play ten times in a row with the intention of wearing down the defensive line.

“We just didn’t execute. We are a bunch that when we do execute, we play good football,” Crick said. “We play well against the run. We know we’re capable of that. We have to do what we have to do to stop the run this week.”

While the Raiders game certainly didn’t help the Broncos’ season average, going into Week 10 the Broncos have the fourth worst run defense, giving up an average of 128.6 yards per game. Due to that and the fact that Denver has the No. 1 rated pass defense, Crick knows what opposing teams game plans will be.

“We know New Orleans is going to want to run the ball, so we have to take the mentality that we have to stop the run to force third and long passing situations to help our team out,” he said. “You got to stop the run and make them try to throw it. If we can do that, we should be in good shape.”

If the Broncos are able to stop the run, it will make it very difficult for opposing offenses to move the ball. The Broncos’ run stoppers, including rookie Adam Gotsis, understand that if they can force teams to pass the ball then they will be set up for success.

“The secondary and our pass rush, that’s what makes the money. We got to do a better job of stopping the run,” Gotsis said.

Unfortunately for Denver, this task will be even more difficult with the loss of starting defensive end Derek Wolfe. Wolfe, potentially the most impactful player in the running game, left during the third quarter against the Raiders with a hairline fracture in his right elbow and is slated to miss two to four weeks.

To fill in for Wolfe, the Broncos will use a committee of players instead of just relying on one person.

“Everybody just has to do their job a little bit more. Losing Wolfe, that’s going to hurt,” Crick said. “He’ll be back before anybody expects. Until then, we just have to go out and do our individual jobs. If we can all do that, and do it just a little bit more, we’ll be in good shape.”

For Sunday’s game against the Saints expect to see a rotation of Adam Gotsis, Billy Winn and Darius Kilgo to replace Wolfe at defensive end. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett’s role could increase as well as he has graded out very highly against the run this year.

“Everyone’s got to be ready to step up, just like the secondary with Aqib [Talib] being out. It’s part of being a team, the next guy up has got to be just as ready as the guy that’s playing,” Gotsis said.

The success of the next-man-up mentality in Wolfe’s absence will be a major determining factor in if the Broncos’ run defense can get back on track or not. Fortunately for the Broncos, the Saints are a pass-heavy team. However, so were the Raiders.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?