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Teams finally figuring out how to exploit Broncos defense

Without an effective pass rush, opposing offenses are finding a lot of open running backs and tight ends in the secondary.

NFL: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos defense has always struggled to contain pass catching running backs and tight ends, but they relied heavily on their effective pass rush to generate enough pressure to limit the damage a quarterback could do against them.

Well, since the return of Shane Ray, the pass rush has completely disappeared. Von Miller isn’t getting to the quarterback. Shaquil Barrett isn’t on the field as much, so the run defense has taken a hit.

Since Ray’s return, the Broncos defense has given up 29, 51, and 41 points. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate Ray’s effectiveness on this defense.

Against the New England Patriots, Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Woods kept the trio on the field and allowed Josh McDaniels to spread them out wide in coverage on running backs and tight ends.

Woods decided to go full man coverage against Brady and didn’t change or adjust when that didn’t work.

“We played a lot of man, so our linebackers have got to be able to cover tight ends as well as our safeties,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said of the Patriots’ use of tight ends and running backs. “You can see how teams are trying to attack us, so we’ve got to fix that.”

The issue I have with his linebacker comment is that it was the Broncos pass rushers or run stoppers spread out wide in coverage, not as much Brandon Marshall or Todd Davis. As much as Davis has struggled in coverage, he is still probably a better option than Shaq Barrett or Shane Ray.

As bad as the coaching is right now, the leaders on defense have to stand up and keep each other motivated. The 2017 season is all about pride at this point. Play for each other.