2013 Denver Broncos: Replacing Dumervil's production Part 1

Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

Elvis Dumervil's production and what to expect from a defensive end: Myths and Half Truths v. Fact

A lot of back and forth has ensued on these boards regarding Elvis Dumervil. There are some interesting takes and stances on both sides of the argument. Some think it will be no problem replacing Dumervil's production, others think it is a loss that weakens the Broncos defense in ways that are not easily fixable. Let us first examine some of the broad sweeping statements being made:

Myth #1: Dumervil sucked against the run so who cares anyway?

In the running game, a DE is meant to hold the edge. On film when you see it the end is reading and reacting. He doesn't take himself too far upfield and he is careful to engage the blocker and get tied up and therefore be controlled by the OL. His job is to hold the "C" gap and string out the play if the runner takes the ball outside on the "D" gap. In other words, unless the play is run right at him, he's not really in a position to affect the play. If you have used this argument, find a new one to discredit the player. You are oversimplifying the situation and ignoring the strategic significance of this role.

Fact: Dumervil held the edge just fine, and any NFL player worth his pay will do so as well.

Myth #2: People neutralized Dumervil by running right at him, people will neutralize Freeney/Abraham the same way if they are in the game on base downs.

This one sort of blends two different sides of an argument. Detractors wrongfully continue Myth #1 into Myth #2. People that say Dumervil will be hard to replace use the same argument against potential replacements. NFL offenses play to their strengths. I know that it is natural to assume that offenses will want to exploit a weakness and therefore a short, undersized DE who's main strength is pass rushing. But you have to think about the other side of the coin as well. Offenses will run where they are strong. Could be the strongside of the formation with a RT and TE that are better run blockers than the more athletic LT/LG. Could be up the middle. I did some research and analyzed every 1st and 3rd down run the Broncos (and Dumervil) faced over the first 8 games of the season, and here's the data:

1st Down R

To direction

%

Tackles

112

33

29.5

6


3rd Down R

To direction

%

Tackles

15

4

26.7

0

Neither of those numbers indicates that teams ran exclusively just at Doom to exploit him. In fact in the Patriots game (when the Broncos gave up over 250 yards rushing) they did most of their damage up the middle.

Fact: Offenses will run the ball where it makes sense for them to run the ball, that doesn't necessarily mean they will run at one guy specifically. There are blocking schemes and offensive linemen that determine where the ball is run and that affects the play selection just as much if not more than a single defensive matchup.

Half-Truth #1: Offenses can run the no huddle and then exploit whichever player is in there. If the end is a better run stopper, they'll pass the ball more. If the end is a better pass rusher, they will run the ball more. If Freeney or Abraham in there they will tire quickly and not have juice when it comes time to rush the passer.

There are less than a handful of teams that are capable of running no-huddle on a consistent basis. Pretty much anyone else can run hurry-up when the situation dictates they do. That is the fundamental difference between the two. No-huddle is strategic and an aggressive tactic by the offense to dictate the pace of the game, no-huddle is a passive tactic by the offense that is dictated to them by the score and gameclock.

Now as far as running no-huddle, one thing it does is it limits the defenses' ability to substitute. So technically you could say that offenses could do so to exploit RDE. I'll give you another tactic that does the same: 3 step drop. Wanna guess where I saw it extensively? Tom Brady running no huddle against the Broncos. Another key to the No-huddle, at least in the way that our most dangerous opponents will run it, is that it is run at a fast tempo to keep the defense on it's heels. You also want to know when the Patriots had the most success rushing the ball? When they ran the no-huddle. They snapped the ball quickly with the defense not set and used the moment to blow defenders off their gap responsibilities. Going further, everyone on that DL was tired including Dumervil and no one got a lot of push from the edge or otherwise. Remember, that's part of the advantage of the tactic. This can be applied to all the defenders.

Fact: No-huddle is an aggressive offensive tactic that is meant to attack and exploit the entire defense. There are many other ways to neutralize a pass rush including quick passes and screens. Everyone on defense tires, especially the bigger guys in the front 7.

Myth #3: Dumervil drew a lot of double teams which allowed Von Miller to feast.

1st Down P

DT

%

Pressure

%

Coverage S

Speed S

72

11

15.3

9

12.5

0.5

1

3rd Down P

DT

%

Pressure

%

Coverage S

Speed S

88

14

15.9

9

10.2

1

1

Over the 160 pass rushing snaps I observed, Dumervil was doubled a total of 25 times. That number works itself out to 15.6% of the time. Most of the time it was a TE or back that would chip him off the snap or shortly thereafter. Now, I do expect teams to give that RDE a little less attention than normal until someone establishes themselves, but right now it isn't a big enough ratio to have me worried that Von Miller will be tag teamed all the time. In fact this might be a positive. both the RDE and the 3-tech on that side should have one on one's the majority of the time. I'm not going to expand into it further, but also note that Dumervil got pressure about 1 in every 10 rush attempts, at least in the sample I examined.

Fact: Dumervil was not double teamed extensively enough to tell me this is something we should be worried too much about going further.

Half Truth #2: Dumervil is a speed rusher and we cannot replicate his athleticism

Doom is athletic, and he was our speed pass rusher. That is until Von Miller came to town. He's the speed guy now. Doom's staple was the bull rush. The reason being he was already low to the ground anyway. He could get his arms extended and drive the LT back. Doom's other staple seemed to be the rip move to the outside. Doom did not however have the quickest first step. The Broncos lined him up almost exclusively in the 9-tech position (wide 9) which would limit that initial burst anyway. What it did in turn though was it provided more one on ones on the inside and more room for the inside guys to stunt--which brings me to my next point.

There were a ton of snaps where Dumervil was asked to stunt. He was absolutely stonewalled almost every single time. Both Wolfe and Ayers fared better when stunting because they are a bit stronger.

So to rundown:

- Dumervil set the edge fine, so will his replacement

- Offenses will run the ball to their strengths, not necessarily at one player or another

- No huddle is an aggressive offensive tactic that exploits the entire defense. It is true you can't substitute and matchups can be exploited, but any player can be schemed into a mismatch by a smart OC/QB.

- Everyone on the defense gets tired from the no-huddle, not just old guys.

- Dumervil did not draw an inordinate amount of double teams in pass rushing situations.

- Dumervil, while athletic, can be replaced in the defense by someone who is a bit bigger and stronger. The loss of his speed is negligible as he was lined up differently and asked to do different things anyway.

- There might be a better fit at RDE in Del Rio's defense out there

There you have it, in part 2 I'll take a look at the production of both Dwight Freeney and John Abraham.

PLEASE DON'T FORGET TO SEND ANY BRONCOS/FOOTBALL RELATED QUESTIONS TO:

broncomike251@gmail.com

OR tweet them to

@Bronco_Mike251

Both Tim Lynch and I will answer your questions on a weekly basis. The first mailbag will be next Friday (4/5), all questions are due by Wednesday evening (4/3).

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