Do you smell that?
Let me just tell you right now, it's the Denver Broncos' defense who's stinking up the place.
The Broncos have allowed 28.4 points per game through the first six weeks of the season. They are giving up 156 yards on the ground per contest, and have allowed teams an average of 362 yards of offense. Simply put, the Broncos cannot stop anybody right now, but they have their best chance of doing so against the San Francisco 49ers.
This Bronco team is looking a lot like the Broncos circa 2008. The offense has been able to get yards seemingly on demand, but they cannot put points on the board and the defense cannot stop anybody. It makes sense, since only one player starting for the Broncos' defense this Sunday was actually drafted by the team (D.J. Williams).
Ever since the 2006 season, the Broncos' defense has been a disaster. This year, the defense had somewhat unclear expectations due to Mike Nolan's departure, and then the injury to Elvis Dumervil.
Since Dumervil's injury, it seems the Broncos' defense has been the subject of some type of voo-doo, because some series of events has led to the following list of injured players:
- S Brian Dawkins
- CB Champ Bailey
- CB Andre' Goodman
- CB Perrish Cox
- S Darcel McBath
- OLB Robert Ayers
- OLB Jarvis Moss
- ILB Wesley Woodyard
- DL Kevin Vickerson
- DL Jamal Williams
In case you weren't paying attention (and I wasn't), the Broncos' starting defense against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday was as follows:
DL: Ryan McBean, Jamal Williams, Justin Bannan
LB: Mario Haggan, DJ Williams, Joe Mays, Jason Hunter
CB: Champ Bailey, Perrish Cox
S: Renaldo Hill, Nate Jones
All I have to say is, "Yikes."
No wonder the Broncos allowed 59 points to the Raiders at home. They didn't have anyone who was capable of stopping them! That defense that the Broncos put out wasn't even an option in the fourth pre-season game. The amount of injuries this team has sustained is pathetic, but at what point does it become less of an excuse?
This week against the 49ers, the Broncos will be able to plug in safety Brian Dawkins and cornerback Andre' Goodman to the mix, and will have some semblance of their starting lineup back. Obviously, they will not be able to use Elvis Dumervil this year, but eventually they will also have back Robert Ayers and Kevin Vickerson should be back sooner rather than later.
The Denver Broncos simply need to get healthy. The defense they used against the Raiders would have allowed 59 points to probably any team on Sunday, that is, unless the offense would take care of the ball a little better.
There's a lot wrong with this Denver team right now, but things will start to get better. The Broncos have been bit hard by the injury bug, and the recovering process is exactly that--a process. Things will slowly start to get back to normal, but the two key players returning for the 49ers game could be key to the Broncos getting back on the right track.
The 49ers will be using third string quarterback Troy Smith on Sunday, and if we're not confident in this defensive backfield against him, then we have lost hope for the season. Don Martindale will be aggressive early on against Smith and the 49ers, forcing them into long third down situations. I think the Broncos' defense could have a field day against the 49ers ad Wembley Stadium, though I am not underestimating San Francisco.
They are just as desperate as we are, and they also have a defense that should be smelling blood. Both teams are at a crossroads, and both head coaches might be coaching for their jobs.
The more aggressive team on Sunday will probably win the game. Let's hope the Raiders ignited a fire in this Denver defense.