Chris Harris Jr. had an interesting observation about how he is being used during OTAs this year. In an interview with Sirius XM NFL, Harris noted he was being used more in run defense and in rushing the passer. This harkens back to his early days in the NFL, and signals changes that are coming to the defense.
When Ian St. Clair and I weren't trying to figure out which hand told hold your drink in while kicking a field goal, we looked at some possible changes for the defense on the Mile High Report Radio podcast. The biggest issues facing the defense in 2016 was stopping the run. Bringing Harris and presumably Aqib Talib into the mix could be a move to help fix that.
The big bodies of Domata Peko and Zach Kerr were massive offseason additions. DeMarcus Walker should also have a major impact for the Broncos. Add to that a fattened up Adam Gotsis, and it is apparent that the Broncos had one big change in mind regarding the defense - stop the run.
The No Fly Zone should continue to make things difficult for opposing receivers. However, if what Harris said is any indication, they may also have increased defensive responsibilities. One concern may be that this seems like a throwback to the Jack Del Rio era.
The Del Rio era was marked by Von Miller dropping into coverage, and hype videos of animals hunting animals. There were clearly issues with how Del Rio utilized the talent on the team.
Getting off to a strong start will have a major effect on games, as well. Compared to 2015, the 2016 season saw a major drop in stopping teams in the first quarter. The Broncos gave up an average of 5.9 points in the first quarter, ranking 28th in the NFL. In 2015 it was only 2.8 points ranking 5th in the NFL. That meant the offense was always always playing from behind, which contributed to the dumpster fire that was the 2016 Broncos offense.
Stopping the run will be key to turning that stat around in 2017. If it is necessary to utilize corners to do that, the argument can be made that Denver was not capable of fixing the issues on the defensive line.
More likely, teams will game plan away from the pass. Denver will have to prove they can stop the run before teams will try and pass against them. Utilizing the secondary to set that tone will go a long way to making this the number one defense again. It will also help prevent teams from taking early leads. Basic logic on that.
Now, if only Brandon McManus can figure out which hand to hold his drink in while kicking.
Which hand do you hold your drink in while kicking a field goal?
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Double fisted all the way!