clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Broncos defense was elite against the run in 2017

The Denver Broncos were especially good at stopping the run in 2017 and will likely be stout again this season

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

We all know the Denver Broncos defense has been on an historic run since 2014, but even during an apparent down year they found a way to continue being an elite unit in some areas.

Pro Football Focus recently broke down the top NFL defenses against each type of run concept. The Broncos were the top unit against both inside zone and gap concepts, make them dominant in two of the three areas PFF covered.

Nobody defended inside zone runs better than the Denver Broncos last season, who had a success rate of 56.0 percent, one of just four teams to top the 50-percent barrier. The Broncos allowed an average of just 3.1 yards per attempt on inside zone runs, also the best mark in the league and less than a yard before first contact on average. Denver’s run defense was dramatically improved up the middle in 2017, with an unexpected fine season against the run from Domata Peko at nose tackle, whose overall PFF grade jumped from an average of 46.3 over the previous four seasons to 80.0 with Denver.

Peko’s resurgence was a huge stabilizing factor for the interior of the line, but also the emergence of Adam Gotsis as a run stopping maniac opposite of Derek Wolfe helped the situation greatly. The Broncos only got stronger inside, so we should expect another solid year defending these inside zone concepts.

The Broncos also closed the gaps fairly well.

The Broncos weren’t just a one-trick pony against the run, and they led the league when defending gap concepts as well. Their success rate of 55.8 percent was the best in the game.

Pairing this strength of talent inside with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb crashing the outside and we might have that perfect storm of a front-seven we saw during this defense’s historic 2015 Super Bowl run.

I’d love to see that.

Horse Tracks

Broncos coach Vance Joseph needs to make a name for himself this season
Vance Joseph needs a nickname and nine victories. Practically all of the Broncos’ head coaches have sported nicknames. The five with the highest overall winning percentages were: John “Foxy’’ Fox

Is Case Keenum a long-term answer?
The Broncos won't have any QB controversy in training camp, but it's still not clear what version of veteran Case Keenum they'll get in the regular season.

Michigan Football: Jake Butt will shine for Denver Broncos in 2018
Jake Butt was one of the greatest tight ends Michigan football ever had and now he is ready to win a starting job with the Denver Broncos in 2018.

Can the Denver Broncos rely on Case Keenum for the long term?
It’s time to start scouting the 49ers opponents for 2018. Today it’s the Denver Broncos.

3 young players battle it out for No. 3 WR spot
The Denver Broncos haven't had this many options for the No. 3 wide receiver spot in quite some time. Who will win the job?

NFL News

Balancing bad NFL news with inspiring player stories
Friday’s Rise ‘n Grind looks to balance out some of the recent bad NFL news — suspensions and fines — with some inspiring and amazing things NFL players have been doing in the U.S. and abroad.

No NFL team will ever be as bad as the expansion Buccaneers in 1976-77
Let’s take a second to marvel at how awful the Bucs were — even worse than the Browns.

Which current NFL player is most likely to set an unbreakable record?
Aaron Rodgers’ touchdown-interception ratio, Adam Vinatieri’s all-time points scored, Frank Gore’s unstoppable streak of production. Which record do you want to see set far out of reach?

Do the Bills or Vikings have the most crushing NFL playoff losses?
Two Sisyphean franchises. Only one can be the saddest.

David Carr’s 76-sack season is a record that hopefully won’t be broken
Carr’s rookie season was a full-stop disaster — but at least Houston got football!