Last year's defensive unit for the Denver Broncos ranked in the top 5 in almost every statistical category. The defense was considered a strength, a team great at playing with the lead, a fallback for Peyton Manning. Von Miller had a breakout campaign, and Champ Bailey made the pro bowl once again...
This year however, the defense stands as the largest question mark for the team, as Miller started off the year with a suspension, and is now about to undergo surgery for a torn ACL. Champ Bailey has not been able to stay on the field, wrestling a foot injury, and the Bronco legend now finds himself as a role player.
I look at this defense and think "what if". What if Miller decided to not violate the substance abuse policy, what if Champ stayed healthy? With breakout players like Terrance Knighton, DRC, the continued quality out of Chris Harris, and the emergence of Shaun Phillips, this defense could be capable of SO MUCH more.
The statistics for Denver say nothing about the talent in the secondary, teams who play Denver start to throw the ball a lot because they are losing. This makes the run defense looks great on paper and the secondary look dreadful. However, both units probably stand somewhere in the middle. Capable of being stellar, but seemingly mediocre, this defense has a case of bad luck. Hopefully Wesley Woodyard can get back to his early season form, Ihenahco can play with a little more consistency, and maybe this defense will be able to stop somebody in the playoffs.
As you all know, the first test for this defense will be a grudge match versus Phillip River and the Chargers west coast offense. They know whats coming. They know the key to victory is taking the game out of the hobbled Ryan Mathew's hands and putting it all on Phillip Rivers. If they can clog the middle on third down, and let Peyton do his thing, this should go the way we all hope it will.
Let's go Broncos, and prove us all right.