This is a reprise of a post I have been doing in the off-season for the past few years. It looks at the most critical defensive stats and the trends in those stats for the team. There will be few words as I will mostly let the graphs do the talking, but I will need to editorialize a little to get the post to the word limit. Differences relative to 2012 are generally attributable to injuries. Stats will be listed in order of importance - in my opinion. When an NFL average is listed under the title, that is for the entire time frame.
The most critical of all defensive stats. We dropped from a top 5 unit in 2012 to a bottom 10 unit in 2013.
3rd down conversion % allowed
Getting off the field on 3rd down is one of the most important things that a D can do. The Broncos led the league in this stat in 2012 based on a combination of QB pressure and superb coverage (except for in the playoff game). We were average in 2013. This stat is tied to the next one fairly closely.
Opposing QB rating
The Broncos were 9th in this stat in 2012. In 2013 we were pretty much average at 84.5. The league average last season was 86.2.
Yards allowed per play
We led the league in 2012. In 2013 we were average (league average was 5.36 ypp). While total yards allowed is generally much more talked about, this stat is much more informative because of all of the other factors that can go into skewing total yards allowed. The league average over this time frame still was 5.2 yards allowed per play.
Yards allowed per game
Again a big jump is seen relative to 2012 when we were in the top five in the league. League average for the 2013 season was 348 yards allowed per game, so we were in the bottom half of the league in terms of total yards allowed.
We actually forced more regular season turnovers in 2013 than in 2012. The league average was 25.8, so we were average in turns of forcing turnovers.
Yards per carry allowed
Our run defense was the second best in the league in 2012. In 2013 we were in the top 10 (7th) in terms of yards allowed per carry, but we were significantly worse than in 2012. The average NFL carry was 4.16 yards in 2013 which is exactly what the average is for the whole time frame. The Browns had a fantastic 3.35 yards allowed per carry in 2013 which is one of the better numbers in this whole time frame (07 Ratbirds were the best at 2.84 ypc).
Sacks are overrated (total pressures are a much better measure), but this stat is not behind a pay-wall. The 2012 Broncos were tied for the lead in sacks. In 2013 we were average. The average NFL defense has 40.5 sacks in 2013.
Long Passes allowed
2013 was a bad year for the secondary. While our total number of 40+ yard passing plays allowed was good, the number of 20+ yard passing plays allowed was comparable to the 2010 defense. The 2010 Broncos defense was one of the worst of all time (in many stats). This is an astounding jump and HAS to be remedied for the 2014 season. The 2013 Broncos gave up 22 more passing plays of 20+ yards than the 2013 Broncos D gave up.
Big Runs allowed
It's impressive that the Broncos have not given up a 40+ yard run in over two seasons, however the number of runs that went for 20-39 yards more than doubled in 2013 relative to 2012. I chalk this up to poorer safety play in 2013. The average NFL team in 2013 gave up 10.4 runs of 20+ and 2.2 runs of 40+.
Have fun and enjoy the combine.