Projecting the Starting Defense

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

With TC only 10 days away, here is an initial projection of what I expect to see come week 1 of the regular season.

Base Defense (4-3, Under)

DL

LDE Wolfe 95

UT  Williams 92

NT Knighton 98

RDE Ware 94

LB

SAM Miller 58

MIKE Irving 56

WILL Trevathan 59

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CB

LCB Talib 21

RCB Harris Jr. 25

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S

SS Ward 43

FS Moore 26

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I have less faith in one of the rookies taking over the Mike spot.  I think Irving can play it well from our base defense and will still have quite a bit of support in coverage.

Looking to camp, Jackson and Wolfe could be battling for that closed end spot.  For now I'll give the nod to Wolfe because I think Jackson can be more valuable as a tackle in the subpackages.

The other thing to consider, if Chris Harris Jr. is not ready for the beginning of the season, it would be Roby in his spot with either Webster or Carter getting snaps from the slot.

4-2-5 nickel

DL

LDE Miller 58

UT Jackson 95

UT Knighton 98

UT Austin 76

RDE Ware 94

LB

MIKE Trevathan 59

Will Ward 43

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CB

LCB Talib 21

RCB Roby 29

Slot Harris Jr. 25

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S

SS Quinton Carter

FS Rahim Moore

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Knighton will see some rotation with another just to keep him fresh.  Last season that man would have been Mitch Unrein.  If healthy Austin is a more disruptive force than Unrein and should get some opportunities to rush the passer.

What is this? No rookie at the Mike, Trevathan at the Mike? Relax, it's just how they will play/line-up.  Trevathan will become your zone LB most of the time looking in on the backfield and also patrolling the middle.  Ward will be your matchup player pitted against a TE.  They are interchangeable, but these two players give you better coverage without sacrificing the run.

Of course this is my dream line up for the nickel package so I really hope Quinton Carter stays the course and is able to contribute.  This secondary would be a nightmare to throw the ball against.

3-3-5 Nickel

DL

LDE Jackson

NT Knighton

RDE Ware

LB

Ward

Miller

Trevathan

CB

Talib

Roby

Harris Jr.

S

Carter

Moore

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Here's where I cease with labels and let Jack do the calling.  You're likely to see this lineup against mobile QB's.  This was used extensively against the Panthers and Cam Newton.  The Purpose of keeping Miller back as a true LB, and really as the "Mike" is so he can spy that mobile QB and keep him in check.

4-1-6 Dime

DL

LDE Miller 58

UT Jackson 95

UT Knighton 98

UT Austin 76

RDE Ware 94

LB

Trevathan 59

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CB

LCB Talib 21

RCB Roby 29

Slot Harris Jr. 25

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S

Quinton Carter

Rahim Moore

TJ Ward

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Very similar to your 4-2-5 nickel.  In fact if the Broncos end up using Ward as that coverage LB like I suspect you could call it either.

3-2-6 Dime

Think the 3-3-5 with Miller at LB.

Method to Madness

Part of the reason for doing this while at the sametime dropping the bomb of using TJ Ward as the coverage LB in the subpackages is to underscore just how versatile the players in our defense are.  Multiple fronts, alignments, in the end the ability for our players to adapt really makes labeling difficult until you get into the tape and how they are being utilize.

Here are the things you should take away from this:

- Wolfe and Jackson compliment each other.  If one is utilized with the base defense, the other can be utilized in the subpackages.  Both are similar players.

- I do not expect Kevin Vickerson and Mitch Unrein to play big roles in the DL rotation.  For Vickerson, it's just the reality of a big man coming off hip surgery.  I hope he can come back to his midseason form but that remains to be seen.

- TJ Ward is our "monster" player in the secondary and depending on how Jack Del Rio wants to use him can open the door for some sick combinations among LB and DB.

- Quinton Carter should be our 3rd best safety if healthy.  Chalk that up to remnants of his 2011 play along with the fact that we lost Mike Adams and are razor thin behind the starters when it comes to proven depth.

GO BRONCOS

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