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Broncos defense was elite against the run in 2017

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

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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.

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