Football Outsiders, in a recent ESPN article, gave their sneaky offensive and defensive strength for each NFL team heading into the 2017 season and the Denver Broncos section caught me a bit by surprise.
Offense: Passing against blitzes
Trevor Siemian did a strong job of diagnosing the blitz last season. His yards per attempt jumped from 5.5 when facing a standard pass-rush to 7.9 yards against five pass-rushers and 8.9 yards against six or more. Paxton Lynch also did well against the blitz in his limited playing time, going from 4.5 average yards with a regular pass rush to 7.0 yards against a blitz.
So no matter which quarterback wins the starting job, Football Outsiders likes how the Broncos will perform when their starting quarterback is going to be blitzed this year.
Meanwhile, the defense was also surprising for different reasons.
The Broncos not only cover well, they also tackle, compiling a league-low broken-tackle rate of 7.4 percent. (They were tied for fourth with 83 broken tackles allowed, but faced more plays than the defenses with fewer broken tackles.)
This stat is kind of a head scratcher considering how well the Broncos defensive front degraded in run support in 2016. Pro Football Focus has a “yards after first contact” stat that paints a much different picture.
One major difference between the 2015 Broncos and the 2016 Broncos... pic.twitter.com/zk6thHSowp— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 11, 2017
Either way, my eyes tell me the Broncos defense tackles well overall, but they were definitely not getting the job done up front last season.
I’ll be looking for much better run stoppage from the interior of that defense in 2017. If they can do that, this team will get to 10 wins easily.