The Denver Broncos beat the Seattle Seahawks 23-20 on Saturday night, improving their preseason record against the Seahawks to 8-1. The Broncos own the Seahawks. With a preseason winning percentage of .888888888...... it's hard to ignore the obvious.
During the game, there were a number of things that jumped out at me. What stood out the most, however, was the pass rush. I know... I know... way to pick the obvious one, Troy. But honestly, I believe that I was able to capture the effectiveness of the Denver Broncos pass rush with just one simple image. Is it a picture of Von Miller sacking Tavaris Jackson? Nope. Is it Elvis Dumervil sacking Tavaris Jackson? Nope.
If you'll notice, there's something strange about the offensive formation on this 3rd and 10 play. Let me zoom in, just in case you can't see it.
Can you find Waldo? It's the Tight End at the bottom of the formation. His name is Zach Miller (former Oakland Raider) and his responsibility on this play is to block Elvis Dumervil in an obvious passing situation. I'll be honest, when I was watching the broadcast for the first time, I laughed out loud. Just look at how far back he is. Look at it. He is 3 yards off the line of scrimmage.
I laughed.... oh, how I laughed...
But then I thought about it for a while and realized that this is the perfect pictorial display of how effective the Denver Broncos pass rush is. This is the ultimate level of respect. Put yourself in the shoes of Elvis Dumervil, for a second. How can you tell if you're an outstanding speed rusher? Easy... the 2010 pro bowl tight end lined up across from you is conceding 3 yards of real estate, pre-snap, so that you won't be able to dip your shoulder and go around him.
Let me also remind you that this snapshot was taken on the third defensive play of the game. Yes, the THIRD play. Would you like to see what happened on second down that made the Seahawks realize that the Broncos were ready, willing and able to break Tarvaris Jackson in half? Here you go....
Doesn't that picture give you chills? Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller bearing down on the quarterback while both offensive tackles look on with contrite resignation, one of whom is down on one knee. Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil had their hands on Tarvaris Jackson more than they had their hands on their blockers. That's hardly hyperbole, either. I'm pretty sure that these two players were having races against each other on Saturday to see which one could sack the quarterback first. Sometimes, it was a tie...
That's something that I am excited to see more of when the regular season begins.
Anyways, after this second down play, the Seahawks realize that they cannot block Elvis Dumervil. He's too quick. The Broncos have two edge rushers that are as fast as lightning. To account for this, the Seahawks had Zach Miller line up across from Dumervil, essentially next to the quarterback, Tavaris Jackson. This mitigates Doom's ability to dip his shoulder and get around him. Smart move by the Seahawks protection.
However, the Seahawks didn't take into account how strong Elvis Dumervil is. To demonstrate this, let me show you a before and after of the 3rd and 10 play. The before is a snapshot of when Dumervil and Miller first make contact. The after is a snapshot of how far Miller is pushed backwards in the course of about a second and a half.
You can see that Von Miller almost makes the sack on Tarvaris Jackson, in this frame, but take notice of where Elvis Dumervil is standing when all this happens. By my rough estimate, he pushed Miller from about the 21 and a half yard line of the nearside hash marks to the 18 yard line of the far side hash marks. With some quick pythagorean theorum calculations (knowing that hash marks are 18 feet, 6 inches wide), we can estimate that Dumervil pushed Zach Miller about 21 feet (7 yards) during this play. About 2 seconds ticked off the clock during this time. Dumervil pushed Miller 3.5 yards per second or 10.5 feet per second.
Versatility is what makes him dangerous. Offensive linemen can't handle his speed rush, while tight ends and runningbacks can't handle his strength.
My advice to opposing offensive coordinators would be this: Stay out of 3rd and long unless you have Von Miller or Elvis Dumervil on your fantasy football team.