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What it takes to be a top 10 NFL Offense/Defense: Broncos prognostications and projections for the 2012 season

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Hey Broncos fans, how you doin? Training Camp is almost upon us and I have a bold predection for next season that I want to share with everyone. Our Broncos WILL be both a top 10 Offense and top 10 defense next year. Why do I make such proclomations you ask? Because that is what it will take to be a serious contender in 2012. SIKE! Look at the rankings from last years' playoff teams, not one of them had both a top 10 Offense and Defense:

TeamResultOff/YPGOff/PPGOff/PYGOff/RYGDef/YPGDef/PPGDef/PYGDef/RYG
NYGSB, W8TH9TH 5TH 32ND 27TH 25TH 29TH 19TH
NESB, L2ND 3RD 2ND 20TH 31ST 15TH 31ST 17TH
BALAFC, L15TH 12TH 19TH 10TH 3RD 3RD 4TH 2ND
SFNFC, L26TH 11TH 29TH 8TH 4TH 2ND 16TH 1ST
DENDIV, L23RD 25TH 31ST 1ST 20TH 24TH 18TH 22ND
HOUDIV, L13TH 10TH 18TH 2ND 2ND 4TH 3RD 4TH
GBDIV, L3RD 1ST 3RD 27TH 32ND 19TH 32ND 14TH
NODIV, L1ST 2ND 1ST 6TH 24TH 13TH 30TH 12TH
PITWC, L12TH 22ND 10TH 14TH 1ST 1ST 1ST 8TH
CINWC, L20TH 18TH 20TH 19TH 7TH 9TH 9TH 10TH
ATLWC, L10TH 7TH 8TH 17TH 12TH 18TH 20TH 6TH
DETWC, L5TH 4TH 4TH 29TH 23RD 23TH22ND 23RD

So why do I say that's what it will take? Honestly, I want our team to make the playoffs with as few glaring weaknesses as possible. For the most part, playoff teams last year and historically have been really good on one side of the ball. So what happens if you're a top offense like NE, NO, GB but leak like sieve on the defensive side of the ball and vice versa? All it takes is meeting one team that can limit your strength and exploit your weakness to win the game. Also, seeing how the Broncos jettisoned Tebow for Manning tells me they want to be vastly more explosive offensively, and Jack Del Rio has already stated the goal is to have a top 10 defense. These should be the goals, we should have a tough team on both sides of the ball. Will it happen? Maybe, maybe not, who knows. But I'm going to educate you on what it takes to reach those heights offensively and defensively, and I'm going to analyze what sort of improvement it will take to get there. Let's Start with Offensive and Defensive Rankings over the last 5 years. Gonna hit you with a lot of info so hang on!

For each of these tables, I included all top 10 teams from the last 3 years, and the 1st and 10th team from 2007-2008 to give us a general range. Should be easy to read, left to right the NFL's Top 10 defenses in Points, Yards, Passing Yards, and Rushing Yards respectively:

TeamPTSA/G TeamYDSA/G TeamP YDSA/G TeamYDSAVG/G
PIT/0822313.9 PIT/083795237.2 NYJ/092459153.7 PIT/10100462.8
PIT/1122714.2 NYJ/094037252.3 PIT/082511156.9 MIN/07118574.1
SF/1122914.3 PIT/074262266.4 TB/072728170.5 MIN/08123076.9
PIT/1023214.5 SD/104345271.6 PIT/112751171.9 SF/11123677.3
NYJ/0923614.8 PIT/114348271.8 SD/102845177.8 GB/09133383.3
GB/1024015.0 PIT/104429276.8 BUF/092949184.3 MIN/09139487.1
DAL/0925015.6 GB/094551284.4 CLE/112959184.9 PIT/09143889.9
BAL/0926116.3 HOU/114571285.7 DEN/092981186.3 CHI/10144190.1
IND/0726216.3 BAL/114622288.9 OAK/103027189.2 DAL/09144890.5
BAL/1126616.6 NYJ/104664291.5 HOU/113035189.7 NYJ/10145490.9
BAL/1027016.9 BAL/094808300.5 CAR/093056191.0 BAL/11148296.2
HOU/1127817.4 CIN/094822301.4 BUF/103072192.0 BAL/09149293.3
SF/0928117.6 PIT/094885305.5 NO/103103193.9 SD/10150093.8
NE/0928517.8 MIN/094888305.6 GB/103107194.2 BAL/10150393.9
CHI/1028617.9 NO/104900306.3 BAL/113140196.3 MIA/11153095.6
ATL/1028818.0 SF/114931308.2 TEN/073187199.2 HOU/11153696.0
CIN/0929118.2 NE/084944309.0 NYJ/103210200.6 CHI/11154296.4
GB/1029718.6 GB/104945309.1 NYJ/113216201.0 SF/10154796.7
IND/1129818.6 MIA/104949309.1 TB/103216201.0 ATL/11155297.0
NYJ/1030419.0 NYG/104972310.8 GB/093218201.1 SF/09155297.0
JAX/0730419.0 PHI/074982311.4 KC/113221201.3 NE/07157298.3
CHI/1130719.2 NYJ/114993312.1 OAK/083220201.3 CIN/09157398.3
NO/1030719.2 MIN/105002312.6 CIN/093249203.1 NYJ/09157898.6
IND/0930719.2 JAX/115008313.0 STL/113301206.3 DAL/11158599.1
CAR/0930819.3 CHI/105029314.3 OAK/093303206.4 PIT/11159799.8
NE/0930919.3 DEN/095040315.0 WAS/093316207.3 MIA/101601100.1
MIN/0931219.5 CAR/095053315.8 BAL/093316207.3 NYG/101620101.3
MIA/1131319.6 DAL/095054315.9 TB/093318207.4 MIA/081620101.3
NE/1031319.6 CIN/115060316.3 JAX/113341208.8 MIN/101635102.2
TEN/1131719.8 BAL/105102318.9 MIA/103348209.3 JAX/111667104.2
SD/1032220.1 WAS/095115319.7 NYG/103352209.5 CIN/111675104.7
CIN/1132320.2 PHI/115198324.9 MIN/103367210.4 PHI/091675104.7
TB/0832320.2 SEA/115315332.2 CIN/113385211.6 ATL/101694105.9
PHI/1132820.5 CLE/115318332.4 PHI/113397212.3 ATL/091709106.8

Now, all the information is there and it is cool to have for future reference, but don't get caught up on a big table full of numbers and data, here's what it boils down to:

- Being a Top 10 Defense in points means giving up 14-20 PPG.

- Being a Top 10 Defense in overall yardage means allowing 237-332 YPG.

- Being a Top 10 Passing Defense means allowing 154-212 YPG.

- Being a Top 10 Rushing Defense means allowing 63-107 YPG.

Now let's move on to the Offensive side of the ball, same type of chart here:

TeamPTSA/G TEAMYDSA/G TEAMP YDSA/G TEAMR YDSA/G
NE/0758936.8 NO/117474467.1 NO/115347334.2 NYJ/092756172.3
GB/1156035.0 NE/116848428.0 NE/115048317.8 MIN/072634164.6
NO/1154734.2 NE/076580411.3 NO/084977311.1 DEN/112632164.5
NE/1152332.7 NO/086571311.1 GB/114924307.8 KC/102627164.2
NE/1051832.4 GB/116482405.1 DET/114814300.9 TEN/092592162.0
NO/0951031.9 NO/096461403.8 NYG/114734295.9 NYG/082518157.4
DET/1147429.6 DAL/096390399.4 NE/074731295.7 CAR/092498156.1
MIN/0947029.4 PHI/116386399.1 HOU/094654290.9 OAK/102494155.9
NO/0846328.9 NE/096357397.3 IND/104609288.1 HOU/112448153.0
GB/0946128.8 DET/116337396.1 SD/104519282.4 CAR/112408150.5
SD/0945428.4 SD/106329395.6 IND/094515282.2 JAX/102395149.7
SD/1044127.6 SD/116290276.6 NO/104441277.6 NYJ/102374148.4
PHI/1043927.5 CAR/116237389.8 NE/094436277.3 PHI/102324145.3
IND/1043527.2 PHI/106230389.4 SD/114426276.6 MIN/112318144.9
PHI/0942926.8 HOU/106186386.6 NO/094355272.2 PHI/112276142.3
NE/0942726.7 NYG/116161385.1 SD/094338271.1 MIA/092231139.4
IND/0941626.0 HOU/096129383.1 DAL/094287267.9 NYG/102200137.5
ATL/1041425.9 IND/106092380.8 DAL/114201262.6 BAL/092200137.5
OAK/1041025.6 NYG/106085380.3 ATL/114192262.0 NO/112127132.9
SD/1140625.4 MIN/096074379.6 GB/094180261.3 OAK/112110131.9
CAR/1140625.4 OAK/116072379.5 MIN/093156259.8 NO/092106131.6
ATL/1140225.1 GB/096065379.1 PIT/094148259.3 DAL/092103131.4
NYG/0940225.1 ATL/116026376.6 HOU/104144259.0 CLE/092087130.4
PHI/1139624.8 NO/105960372.5 GB/104124257.8 CIN/092056128.5
NYG/1139424.6 PIT/095941371.3 PHI/114110256.9 SF/112044127.8
DAL/1039424.6 NYG/095856366.0 PHI/094089255.6 HOU/102042127.6
NYG/1039424.6 DAL/105828364.3 PIT/114054253.4 JAX/092029126.8
SEA/0739324.6 NE/105820363.8 DAL/104042252.6 CHI/112015125.9
BAL/0939124.4 IND/095809363.1 DEN/104038252.4 TB/102001125.1
ATL/0839124.4 SD/095761360.1 WAS/103913244.6 BAL/111996124.8
HOU/1039024.4 GB/105730358.1 PHI/103906244.1 OAK/081987124.2
GB/1038824.3 OAK/105674354.6 NYG/103885242.8 NE/101973123.3
HOU/0938824.3 CAR/085595349.7 PHI/073755234.7 MIN/101942121.4
HOU/1138123.8 CIN/075568348.0 MIA/083632227.0 CLE/071895118.4

- Being a Top 10 Offense in Points means scoring 24-37 PPG.

- Being a Top 10 Offense in Yards means gaining 348-467 YPG.

- Being a Top 10 Passing Offense means gaining 227-334 YPG.

- Being a Top 10 Rushing Offense means gaining 118-172 YPG.

So how have our Broncos fared the past 5 years in all the categories, offensively and defensively? Reading top to bottom Points, Total Yards, Passing Yards, Rushing Yards

Broncos Defense 2007-2011

BroncosPTSAVG/GRankTop 10 AVG/GDIFF/G
‘0740925.628th19.0-16.3-6.6
‘0844828.030th20.2-13.9-7.8
‘0932420.312th19.5-14.8-0.8
‘1047129.432nd20.1-14.5-9.3
‘1139024.324th20.5-14.2-3.8
BroncosYDSAVG/GRANKTop 10 AVG/GDIFF/G
07’5376336.019th311.4-266.4-24.6
08’5993374.629th309.4-237.2-65.2
09’5040315.07th319.7-252.3+4.7
10’6253390.832nd318.9-271.6-71.9
11’5725357.820th332.4-271.8-25.4
BroncosYDSAVG/GRANKTop 10 AVG/GDIFF/G
07’3094193.47th199.2-170.5+5.8
08’3656228.526th201.3-156.9-27.2
09’2981186.33rd207.4-153.7+21.1
10’3780236.325th210.4-177.8-25.9
11’3704235.118th212.3-171.9-22.8
BroncosYDSAVG/GRankTop 10 AVG/GDIFF
‘072282142.630th98.3-74.1-44.3
‘082337146.127th101.3-76.9-44.8
‘092059128.726th106.8-83.3-21.9
‘102473154.631st105.8-62.8-49.8
‘112021126.322nd104.7-77.3-21.6

The Broncos have struggled often in all categories defensively the last 5 years. Their highest ranking in points was 12th, yards was 7th, passing yards 7th and 3rd, and rushing defense 22nd. 2010 really sucked....thank you very much McDaniels/Wink. How have our offensive numbers fared during that same time?

Broncos Offense 2007-2011

BroncosPTSAVG/GRANKTop 10 AVG/GDIFF
07’32020.021st24.6-36.8-4.6
08’37023.116th24.4-28.9-1.3
09’32620.420th24.3-31.9-3.9
10’34421.519th24.3-32.4-2.8
11’30919.325th23.8-35.0-4.5
BroncosYDSAVG/GRANKTop 10 AVG/GDIFF
07’5541364.311th348.0-411.3-23.7
08’6333395.82nd349.7-410.7+46.1
09’5463341.415th363.1-403.8-21.7
10’5582348.913th354.6-395.6-5.7
11’5066316.623rd376.6-476.1-60.0
BroncosYDSAVG/GRANKTop10 AVG/GDIFF
07’3584224.013th234.7-295.7-10.7
08’4471279.43rd227.0-311.1+52.4
09’3627226.713th255.6-290.8-28.9
10’4038252.47th242.8-288.1+9.6
11’2434152.131st253.4-334.2-101.3
BroncosYDSAVG/GRANKTop10 AVG/GDIFF
07’1957122.39th118.4-164.6+3.9
08’1862116.412th124.2-157.4-7.8
09’1836114.818th126.8-172.3-12.0
10’154496.526th121.4-164.2-24.9
11’2632164.51st124.8-164.5+39.7

Our offense has never ranked higher than 20th in points with last year being the worst out of the 5 years. We've fared better yardage wise over the same time with '08 being the highest ranking at 2nd. We were pretty good through the air in '08 and 10' and last year was atrocious as we all know. The running game up until last year really sputtered along decreasing bit by bit from 2007-2010. Before I get into specific projections for our Broncos, I wanted to examine how many teams made it in each category, offense and defense by year. This should give us some more framework to go off of. Again the four main categories used are points, yards, passing yards, and rushing yards.

NFL Defensive Averages, 2007-2011

YearTop 10 1/4Top 10 4/4Top 10 3/4Top 10 Y/PTS
200721, 65.6%3, 9.3%6, 18.8%6, 18.8%
200817, 53.1%6, 18.8%7, 21.2%8, 25%
200918, 56.3%3, 9.3%6, 18.8%7, 54%
201018, 65.6%2, 6.2%11, 34.3%7, 21.2%
201117, 53.1%4, 12.5%8, 25%8, 25%
Averages56.8%11.2%23.8%22.5%

It isn't difficult to make it into the top 10 in at least one of the four defensive categories as more than half the teams (56.8%) have managed to do so. The most exclusive club is top 10 in all 4 categories at 11.2%. Being top 10 in 3/4 categories OR top 10 IN BOTH yardage and points are about equal with nearly a quarter of the teams (say 7-8) meeting those requirements each year. For Offense the numbers are similar:

NFL Offensive Averages, 2007-2011

YearTop 10 1/4Top 10 4/4Top 10 3/4Top 10 Y/PTS
200720, 62.50, 0.0%6, 18.76, 18.7%
200821, 65.60, 0.0%7, 21.8%7, 21.8%
200919, 59.3%1, 3.1%7, 21.8%8, 25.0%
201017, 53.1%3, 9.3%9, 28.1%5, 15.6%
201118, 56.2%2, 6.2%8, 25%9, 28.1%
Averages59.3%3.7%23.1%21.8%

60% of NFL Offenses made the top 10 in at least one category. Notice that very few teams have been able to rank top 10 in all four categories. This is indicative of how pass happy the NFL has become. Again, almost a quarter of the teams (7-8) have been able to make it top 10 in 3/4 catories or in points and yards.

Projections for our Broncos Defense

Coming from last year we ranked:

24th in overall points--this was an improvement from 32nd in 2010.

20th in overall yards---this was an improvement from 32nd in 2010.

18th in passing defense---this was an improvement from 25th in 2010.

22nd in rushing defense---this was an improvement from 31st in 2010.

Let's have our benchmark be that the Broncos defense will be a top 10 team in points and yards and go from there. That would mean giving up between 14-20 ppg and 240 and 330 yards per game. Since most of our defensive upgrades have come in the secondary and pass rushing areas, here is what next season WILL look like in order to be successful:

Points: 305 overall, 19.1 PPG, ranked 8th in the league

Yards: 5250 overall, 328.1 YPG, ranked 9th in the league

Passing: 3400 overall, 212.5 YPG, ranked 10th in the league

Rushing: 1850 overall, 115.6 YPG, ranked 17th in the league

Basically the most daunting task means shaving off close to 85 points allowed, from there they would have to shave close to 30 YPG overall, and 20 YPG in the air, and 10 ypg on the ground. I'm definitely glad to have someone like Del Rio paired with Fox because we are going to need some serious strategy and coaching from the both of them.

Projections for our Broncos Offense

Coming from last year we ranked:

25th in overall points---this was a regression from 19th in 2010.

23rd in overall yards---this was a regression from 13th in 2010.

31st in passing offense---this was a regression from 7th in 2010.

1st in rushing offense---this was an improvement from 26th in 2010.

We have to account for a few things before making offensive projections. With Tebow gone and Manning here, our offense will have more emphasis on the passing game and less on the running game. We will most likely not be a top 10 team rushing the ball---I still think it is possible to remain in the top 15 though.

Our Benchmarks offensively will be to have a top 10 offense in yards and points. This would mean scoring between 24-35 ppg, gaining 350-410 ypg, and passing for 230-320 ypg, and rushing for about 110 ypg. This is what that would look like:

Points: 390 overall, 24.3 PPG, ranked 10th in the league

Yards: 5825 overall, 364.0 per game, ranked 10th in the league

Passing offense: 3900 overall, 244 per game, ranked 14th in the league

Rushing offense: 1925 overall, 120 per game, ranked 14th in the league

Why not go for top 10 passing offense with PFM? Honestly, I don't think all the pressure needs to be on him and it might take our offense a bit to work up to full speed. This way, even though the rushing offense drops off, it still remains effective and takes some of the load off of the passing game. Ultimately, both should work together. It also means that our RB's don't have such a huge hole to fill with Tebow gone. If McGahee can give us 1100-1200 yards and our backups can combine for 8-900 yards, there it is. Last year our rushing breakdown was as follows:

McGahee: 1199

Tebow: 660

Ball: 402

Moreno/Johnson: 256

Gaining 1900 yards on the ground will be imperative for the success of our offense and I hope we see the running game remain a big part of the gameplan even with Peyton.

To sum up my research and thoughts, it is best to shoot for being a top 10 offense and defense in both overall yardage and points. Going forward, I think our Broncos can accomplish this goal. Keep a look out for a post similar to this where I evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of our 2012 opponents. There's a lot of data here and that's part of the point of me including it---we can all see it. So let's debate MHR, what are the areas you think our Broncos can attain a top 10 ranking?

Big props to ESPN GO for the stats, click on the categories and it re-ranks the teams---very helpful and easy to gather info.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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