What is a "historically bad" Defense or Why we need to spend all of our early picks on D?

Last year towards the end of the NFL season, my brother, a Faiders fan, texted me a on-liner joke that hit really hard because of the truth in it - "The Denver Broncos will be officially changing their name the Enver Broncos because there is no "D" to be found anywhere in Denver." OUCH!

I, along with many others, this past off-season have described the 2010 Denver Broncos defense as "historically bad." Until recently I hadn't stopped to figure out exactly what that meant - possibly because it would be like giving myself 1000 paper cuts and then pouring lemon juice in them. Well, call me a masochist, but I decided to finally dig into the phrase and crunch some comparative numbers to just how bad the D was last year. If you are a hearty soul and can bear some pain, make the jump with me and I'll show you what I found....

I went back a full decade and looked by year at the two worst defenses in the league in terms of points allowed and point difference (note: subtracting value B from A gives you a DIFFERENCE and not a DIFFERENTIAL - which a function in calculus or part of your car). I looked to see how the 2010 Broncos D compared to other atrocious team defenses from the past decade. I chose to look at point difference because, often the effects of a bad defense are cumulative - team gets down big and is forced to throw the ball more than they would like leading to worse offensive production and even more stress on the weak D. I specifically chose not to look at total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, etc. Good information can be gained from those data, but the ultimate measure of a defense is points allowed. So to focus the analysis, that is where I looked.

Year Team PA

2010 Denver 471 Dallas 436

2009 Detroit 494 St. Louis 436

2008 Detroit 517 St. Louis 465

2007 Detroit 444 St. Louis 438

2006 San Fran 412 Tenn. 400

2005 Houston 431 St. Louis 429

2004 San Fran 452 Oakland 442

2003 Arizona 452 San Diego 441

2002 Cinci 456 Detroit 451

2001 Indy 486 Detroit 424

2000 St. Louis 471 Arizona 443

Thankfully Denver only shows up on this list once, but the 471 points surrendered by the 2010 Broncos D were tied for the the fourth worst by any team in the past decade. That is pretty historic company - in a bad way. The most points allowed ever in an NFL season was 533 ('81 Colts). The trend for the Broncos over the past 5 years is pretty hard to ignore.

Denver PA

2000 369

2001 339

2002 344

2003 301

2004 304

2005 258

2006 305

2007 409

2008 448

2009 324

2010 471

The Broncos defense has been getting steadily worse to the point where in 2010 we almost gave up twice as many points as in 2005.

So what about the point difference numbers. The 2010 Broncos were -127. Historically this did not even show up on the radar of the worst point differences in the past decade - because there were 3 teams in 2010 who were even worse (Carolina, Buffalo and Arizona - to whom the Broncos surrendered 43 pts). The Broncos were saved by having an above average offense. Some of the teams that show up on this list were just as bad on O as they were on D.

Team PD

2009 St. Louis -261

2000 Cleveland -258

2008 Detroit -249

2008 St. Louis -233

2000 Arizona -233

2009 Detroit -232

2003 Arizona -227

2010 Carolina -212

2004 San Fran -193

2005 San Fran -189

2002 Cinci -177

2007 St. Louis -175

2005 Houston -171

2007 Miami -170

2006 Oakland -164

2001 Carolina -157

2002 Arizona -155

2001 Buffalo -155

2010 Arizona -145

2003 NYG -144

2006 Tampa -142

2004 Oakland -122

So, at least, we can breathe a sigh of relief in the our slightly above average offense kept us from being remembered in the same frame of reference as the 09 Rams, 08 Lions, 90 Pats or the 81 Baltimore Colts - the only 4 teams in the past 30 years to be -250 or more.

So, yes, sadly, the 2010 Denver Broncos D was "historically" bad. Please don't use any high draft picks on offensive players. Spend all of your draft capital on fixing the glaring problem - the "historically bad" D. Unlike in past years, free agency is not going to be able to help improve the D - assuming a very short FA period if there is one at all.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR.