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Robert's Role in the Broncos Defense

There are some members here at Mile High Report who have been wondering what role Robert Ayers will play in Dennis Allen's Defense for the Broncos. Since he was a 1st round draft pick in 2009, there have been naysayers and chants that he is a bust. Fans wonder why he only has two Sacks. Well, maybe it could be argued that their hasn't been much of a return from his draft position, as far as statistical production goes, but last season he doubled his production playing in 4 less games. The truth of the matter, is that Mr. Ayers isn't required to amass Sacks. I'm not saying he shouldn't or wouldn't, but Sacks are icing on the cake for Robert's Role in this Defense. Jump with me as I focus on his role in Saturday's game with the Seattle Seahawks.

I realize this is but a small sample, but as you will find out, Robert Ayers sets the edge for the run on his side when he plays Defensive End. He also takes up space as a Defensive Tackle as you will see. Robert did a good job against Seattle getting double-teamed frequently. He was only credited with one Tackle on the day, but had two QB knockdowns. Robert appeared in 22 plays during the game. On six of those plays, he is double-teamed. In other cases, the opposing Offense ran the ball away from him, whether out of respect or to challenge another specific player. Here are the plays lined out and my comments on what I saw. I rewound the tape as many times as it took to make these determinations.

The plays were taken from's Gamecenter. If it is not self explanatory for you, I will elaborate on how to read them. If so, then please skip down to the first play.

Using the first play below as an example. Reading left to right. 1st and 10, Seattle's ball on their own 25 yard line. (13:10) is the time on the clock. #20-Justin Forsett runs around the right end for no gain (#24-Champ Bailey) makes the Tackle. If their are any other questions on this, please ask in the comments.

1st Quarter
1st possession  
  1. Seattle Seahawks at 13:10
1-10-SEA 25(13:10) 20-J.Forsett right end to SEA 25 for no gain (24-C.Bailey).

Ayers is lined up at the Right Defensive End position (essentially flip-flopped with Elvis Dumervil). The play goes to the other side. Robert sheds his block and puts himself in position to make a play if the tackle is not made by Champ.

2-10-SEA 25(12:28) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to 86-Z.Miller [58-V.Miller].

Ayers lines up at Left Tackle. He gets double-teamed by the Center and Right Guard. Robert pushes them back 5 yards, helping to collapse the pocket. Doom and Miller pressure Jackson into throwing an incomplete pass. 

  1. 3-10-SEA 25(12:22) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right [91-R.Ayers].

Ayers is lined up at Left Tackle (with Von on his outside). He gets another double-team, this time by the Right Guard and a Running Back. Von Miller whiffs on the Sack (or Jackson gets out of it). Tarvaris ends up throwing the ball away once more, but not before Ayers gets a knock down on him. The Seahawks are forced to punt.

2nd possession

  1. Seattle Seahawks at 10:06

1-10-SEA 41(10:06) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short left to 20-J.Forsett (21-A.Goodman).

Ayers still at LDT getting double teamed. He pushes the pocket back a couple yards, but doesn't really have any effect on the outcome of the play, since Tarvaris Jackson takes a 3 step drop ans fires incomplete on a slant to the opposite side.

2-10-SEA 41(10:02) 20-J.Forsett right tackle to SEA 45 for 4 yards (51-J.Mays).

The play gets forced left. Ayers gets a push, clogging his side, forcing Forsett to cut the other way.

  1. 3-6-SEA 45(9:29) (Shotgun) PENALTY on DEN-99-K.Vickerson, Encroachment, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 45 - No Play.
  1. 3-1-50(9:15) 45-T.Clayton left end to DEN 48 for 2 yards (41-C.Vaughn; 55-D.Williams). DEN-55-D.Williams was injured during the play.

Ayers gets another double team, but the play goes away from him to the other side.


1-10-DEN 48(8:44) 7-T.Jackson pass short right to 18-S.Rice to DEN 42 for 6 yards (58-V.Miller).

Ayers makes a swim move to the inside, but the pass is out too quick.

2-4-DEN 42(8:10) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to 17-M.Williams (24-C.Bailey).

Robert lines up at RDE and the play goes to the other side.

3-4-DEN 42(8:03) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to 33-L.Washington [51-J.Mays].

Ayers back at LDT, drives his man back into the QB, helping force the incomplete throw. The Seahawks must punt.

3rd possession

  1. Seattle Seahawks at 06:02

1-10-SEA 46(6:02) Direction Change. 33-L.Washington up the middle to SEA 47 for 1 yard (51-J.Mays).

The Broncos line up with Kevin Vickerson, Broderick Bunkley and Elvis Dumervil and Jason Hunter at the line. Von Miller, Joe Mays and Wesley Woodyard are at Linebacker. This series ends with Jeff Reed's 52-yard Field Goal.

2nd Quarter

4th possession
  1. Seattle Seahawks at 12:27
  2. 1-10-SEA 20 (12:27) 7-T.Jackson sacked at SEA 14 for -6 yards (sack split by 59-W.Woodyard and 92-E.Dumervil).

From left to right--Dumervil, Ryan McBean, Vickerson and Hunter. Woodyard (SAM), Mays (MIKE) and Von Miller (WILL)

2-16-SEA 14(11:50) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass short right to 85-A.McCoy pushed ob at SEA 22 for 8 yards (59-W.Woodyard).

Same lineup as the previous play.

         3-8-SEA 22(11:20) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to 18-S.Rice (20-B.Dawkins). Penalty on SEA, Chop Block, declined.

Ayers comes in at LDT and takes an inside move. Robert and Vickerson occupy 3 linemen and Dawkins bats the ball. Seattle is forced to punt.

5th possession
  1. Seattle Seahawks at 09:27
1-10-SEA 20(9:27) 20-J.Forsett right tackle to SEA 20 for no gain (26-R.Moore).

Ayers at Left Defensive End. The run comes his way, gets good arm extension on the Right Tackle to force the play inside. He gets a paw on the runner and then Vickerson and Dumervil rap up the Tackle. Rahim Moore came from his Safety spot all the way around the right side of the line to get in on the Tackle as well. Moore might have had the first hit on the Tackle.

2-10-SEA 20(8:46) 7-T.Jackson sacked at SEA 15 for -5 yards (58-V.Miller).

Ayers at LDE still, with Von Miller on his outside shoulder. Von drives the RT back until he can slide off him for the Sack. Ayers ends up not being blocked and moves to cover the center throwing lane. Tarvaris Jackson is toast.

3-15-SEA 15(8:11) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass short left to 87-B.Obomanu to SEA 15 for no gain (91-R.Ayers).

Ayers is lined up at RDT. He shucks his blocker, slides along the LOS toward the Receiver and makes the Tackle. Seattle has to punt.

6th possession
  1. Seattle Seahawks at 06:22
1-10-SEA 20(6:22) 7-T.Jackson pass short right to 17-M.Williams to SEA 26 for 6 yards

Ayers is lined up over the Center with Dumervil at LDE. He takes on a double team from the Right Guard and Right Tackle as the Center moves left to help double team Vickerson. Dumervil gets cut by Forsett and Tarvaris Jackson has time to complete the pass. 

2-4-SEA 26(5:49) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short right to 18-S.Rice (41-C.Vaughn).

Ayers at RDT over the Left Guard. He and Vickerson run a stunt. Vickerson gets taken down by the Right Guard (I don't know how the refs missed that flagrant hold out in the open). Ayers gets through his block but isn't involved in the play, which is a bootleg away from him.

3-4-SEA 26(5:43) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson sacked at SEA 19 for -7 yards (92-E.Dumervil).

Ayers at LDT. He drives the Right Guard back 7 yards and then moves inside to watch Dumervil Sack Tarvaris Jackson. The Seahawks must punt.

7th possession
  1. Seattle Seahawks at 02:32
1-10-SEA 45(2:32) 33-L.Washington right tackle to SEA 45 for no gain (51-J.Mays).

Ayers at RDE. Once again, the run goes away from him.

  1. Two-Minute Warning

  2. 2-10-SEA 45(2:00) (Shotgun) PENALTY on SEA-78-T.Polumbus, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SEA 45 - No Play.
  3. 2-15-SEA 40(2:00) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass short left to 33-L.Washington to DEN 49 for 11 yards (24-C.Bailey).

Ayers at RDT. He gets penetration and falls down, otherwise he would have been in the direct passing lane for the screen. He is taken out of the play by the Right Tackle, who blocks Von Miller into him. 

3-4-DEN 49(1:17) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass incomplete short left to 33-L.Washington [58-V.Miller].

Ayers at RDT. Gets LG Robert Gallery going backwards and is then held by Gallery. Ayers and Vickerson take two blockers and Von Doom meet at the Quarterback. Von gets credit for knocking down the QB. And the Seahawks have to punt.

3rd Quarter

8th possession
  1. Seattle Seahawks at 15:00
  1. 1-10-SEA 20(15:00) 20-J.Forsett left tackle to SEA 22 for 2 yards (58-V.Miller). PENALTY on SEA-60-M.Unger, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SEA 20 - No Play.
  2. 1-20-SEA 10(14:34) (Shotgun) 20-J.Forsett up the middle to SEA 15 for 5 yards (58-V.Miller).

  3. Ayers at LDE. Robert holds his position but the play is away from him.

    2-15-SEA 15(13:57) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson sacked at SEA 12 for -3 yards (58-V.Miller).

    Ayers slides inside so Von Miller can play outside his LDE position, with Dumervil on the other End. Vickerson and McBean are the Tackles. Ayers stunts around the right side, creating a wall of defenders and Miller races in on the left for the Sack. Ayers helps put a hit on the QB.

    3-18-SEA 12(13:28) (Shotgun) 7-T.Jackson pass short left to 17-M.Williams to SEA 24 for 12 yards (59-W.Woodyard).

    Ayers at LDT with Von Miller outside him. He drives upfield and does a spin move to the right. Tarvaris Jackson gets his throw away before the pass rush gets there, but it is too early for the Receiver to handle. And Seattle must punt.

    I don't really have any concrete conclusions to offer because of the small sample, but you can see that Dennis Allen is moving guys around on the line. I expect Robert Ayers to continue to line up all across the line. With the addition of Von Miller and the return of Elvis Dumervil, I should think he will get more than the 2 Sacks he made last season, just by virtue of Offensive Coordinators scheming to stop the Von Doom Express. If Ayers takes up space and gets the 39 Tackles and those 2 Sacks he had last year in only 11 games, it would be alright by me. It may not equate to what should be expected out of the 18th overall pick, but I think we know the reason why he was drafted there.

    Go Broncos!