Im an avid reader of the MileHighReport.com and it seems everyone has their own views to the Broncos defensive issues. Some want to scrap the 3-4, others want to overhaul the D-Line but nobody wants to point to the real issue. The 3-4 is designed to create mismatches in the pass rush and provide multiple looks for gap integrity (which confuses an offense). If used correctly (see Mike Nolan before McDaniels starting telling him what to do) you have rush linebackers being blocked by RBs and TEs (creating more pressure on the QB) and D-Linemen taking up blockers allowing LBs to flow to the ball.
Injuries to Elvis significantly effected the defense but the two major issues were scheme and horrible tackling and angles by the Broncos LB core. Wink Martinadale goes from a positional coach without ever being a coordinator in the NFL and is then being asked to draw up 3-4 defensive schemes. You wonder why TE's and FBs are running wide open all over the field? The artistry of the 3-4 takes years to master that is why all of the successfull D-Coordinators of the 3-4 have been running the scheme for years (Capers, Labeau, Phillips, Nolan, etc). The 3-4 allows for various fronts and numerous ways to blitz without putting pressure on the secondary. You can draw up pressure with in creative ways that confuse the offense and create mismatches that allow a true rush DE (OLB) to be matched up on a back or TE. Watch the Steelers and see how many QB pressures Harrison provides on a QB because he is being blocked by a TE or Demarcus Ware being blocked by a RB.
To get the Broncos 3-4 to work and bring respectability back to the Orange Crush these 3 simple things need to happen...after the jump...
1) Hire a D-Coordinator that has extensive experience in the 3-4.
Mike Nolan came in an turned a bunch of castoffs into the 7th ranked defense in the NFL. For the first 6 games of the season they were THE top ranked defense. Then after the bye week, McDaniels tried to put his stamp and the defense and it fell apart. If he listed to the wise words of Teddy Roosevelt, "The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep forom meeddling with them while they do it" ...Mike Nolan would still be coaching a top ranked defense and McDaniels would likely be the coach. Now Mike Nolan (who is doing what HE wants to do) is leading the 6th ranked rushing defense in the NFL down in Miami.
2) Draft or sign good tackling Linebackers
The point of the 3-4 is to have your D-Line eat up blockers and allow your LB to make the tackle. The reason the Broncos have been at the bottom of the league in run defense is because Mario Hagan and DJ Williams are the worse tackling LB tandem in the NFL. If you don't believe me...watch the film of both Raiders games, Cardinals and Ravens. Then count how many bad angles and missed tackles the pair compiled. Then watch Ray Lewis, James Farrior, Brian Urlacher or EJ Henderson and see how they wrap up on every tackle and take away cut back lanes. DJ and Mario love to lead with their shoulders and when you face RBs that can move in space, they sidestep the shoulder (or run thru it) and take advantage of the bad angles and boom...you have the worst rushing defense in the NFL.
3) Get Healthy
If Elvis, Ayers and Vickers were able to stay healthy this defense would be respectable. When the defense was healthy early in the year, they played competitively. Elvis instantly pressures apposing QBs and will add value to our secondary which has been exposed a few times this year. You can also stack more guys in the box with Elvis to stop the run because you dont allow QBs time to get the ball downfield in the passing game.
Changing back to the 4-3 after you gave $60 million to Elvis who is an undersized DE is not a good idea. Using the 2nd overall pick in the 2011 draft on a 5 technique just to eat up blockers...again not a good idea. Following steps 1 through 3 above...would instantly bring the Broncos defense back to respectability.