Bronco Bytes: Orange Crush ... Junior

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 25: Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans is stopped by the Denver Broncos defense at LP Field on September 25, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. Tennessee won 17-14. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Once again, after a tough and hard fought loss, I find myself needing to bring people back from jumping off a cliff in what could only be a cheap imitation of some Heaven's Gate cult. Am I disappointed? Obviously. We did lose after all. Do I think Tim Tebow should supplant Kyle Orton? Yes, I do. However, that just is not going to happen at this time.

It's been three games. All close and seemingly competitive affairs. John Fox is not the type of coach to suddenly do an about face and bench the quarterback who he has given all the reps in practice and his full faith and confidence over the past 10 weeks. 

The earliest Tim Tebow starts is after the Bye week, but that's not going to happen either. I am fairly certain this offense will continue to be inept through the next two games, but Orton will not lose his job until this team is mathematically eliminated. Maybe even a few games after that. The new administration must learn for themselves what we have already learned from last season, the offense sucks and doesn't know how to execute a game plan properly. Screaming for Tebow is a waste of breath and a waste of time - and if you do feel the need to lament, Sayre Bedinger's post pretty much said it all.

Which is why I'm not going to waste any more of my time talking about what we already know. This post, surprisingly enough, is about the defense so if you are tired of hearing about quarterbacks follow this post after the jump to talk about the one aspect of this team that has been pleasantly surprising...

Orange Crush...Junior

We all though this defense was going to be an orange rush and I even likened it to "The Show". Yet all we have seen thus far is simply defense. You know, that thing we all wished for over the past three years but never quite got around to seeing any...

The Show has been derailed thanks to an injury to Elvis Dumervil, but even without him I see this team blitzing often. They are not quite getting there often enough, but the pressure is just enough to force off some timing against opposing quarterbacks - even when they are throwing all over the place. 

As good as this defense has been this year, they are still depleted and hurting. How good has the defense been through the last three games? Not quite Orange Crush good, but after being dead last in almost every meaningful category last season this unit is well on its way back to respectability.  Here's a look at some of the key stats:

Weeks 1-3 Denver Broncos Defensive Rankings
Scoring Total Yds Passing Rushing Sacks Turnovers 3rd Down %
13th
20.7
16th
334.7
13th
234.7
14th
100.0
23rd
5
19th
3
12th
35%

 

I know for those of us with playoff aspirations these numbers are uninspiring, but when put up in the context of my own expectations which I wrote about, this is right where I hoped we would be this year. It's only been three games, but if this defense can get healthy and keep improving then the jump from the worst defense in Broncos history to respectability will have only taken one lockout-shortened offseason. This would far exceed my wildest hopes and dreams. Of course, the offense is actually worse than it was last year, so it looks like this season might be a wash anyway.

With all the flurry of negativity over Kyle Orton's inability to win football games as a starting NFL quarterback, I feel it is important to point out that the defense is keeping games close enough to bring about that negativity. The Broncos first two losses in 2010 we by 7 points and 14 points. In fact, last year this defense gave up enough points to enable the Broncos to lose by 14 twice, 45, 21, 30, and 16. Those are blowouts folks. The Broncos had only lost by 3 or less points ONE TIME last season - its already happened twice in three games in 2011. Sure its still losing, but I'll take a tough 3 point loss on the road over a 45 point loss at home to the Oakland Raiders any day.

The true test comes next week and something tells me Champ Bailey and Elvis Dumervil were held out to make sure they would be ready next week. My biggest hope is that Wesley Woodyard will buck the country club mentality that has existed in Dove Valley for over a decade and remain the starter over underachieving D.J. Williams.  If D.J. is given the nod, then it will be obvious to all of us that the best players do not necessarily get the nod under John Fox.

Even so, its nice to see part of the team is earning its respect back from the rest of the league. It pleases me that its my favorite part of football - defense.

GO BRONCOS!

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