The Denver Broncos set an NFL record for most yards rushing given up in a two-week span with 593 yards, which included two consecutive 200 yard rushers - also an NFL record. These are not records a team wants to set, either.
Head Coach Vance Joseph sounds like he is ready to go back to using more base defense over the nickel, since that change appears to be when the defense began to be run through on the ground.
“I believe we can,” Joseph said on Tuesday when asked if the run defense can be turned around. “The first three weeks, we gave up 3.2 a carry. We’ve had really two bad weeks, and it’s really with our nickel defense. We have to fix that and obviously play in more fronts and fix it that way.”
For two straight weeks, the Broncos matched up 11 personnel with the nickel without any adjustments despite those record-setting marks.
“We have to go back and look at everything, from how we fit things, the fronts we play and how we tackle,” Joseph said. “The first month of the season, that wasn’t a problem for us, even against Kansas City. He popped one run against K.C., it was really two missed tackles. Again, you have to go back and really look at what the problems are.”
Wade Phillips must have known the nickel would be problematic with the players he had last year, because he mostly matched up 11 personnel with their base defense with Justin Simmons in the slot. Current Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods used similar tweaks last year to great effect as the defense finished strong against the run in 2017.
The big question now is whether or not the problem is Vance Joseph meddling in the defensive play-calling the last few weeks trying to fix some issues in the pass defense, because Woods didn’t seem to have a problem with his defense stopping the run until a few weeks ago.