Good morning, Broncos Country!
I am not one to panic. I mean, Hurricane Matthew is headed my way but I've got reinforcements:
So I'm also not panicking about the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.
Since before the Broncos touched down in Denver last Sunday night, analysts were already fretting over "how will the Broncos ever stop a steamrolling offense like the Falcons?" And they kept wondering "how the Broncos defense could possibly handle a Matt Ryan-Julio Jones duo that connected for 500 yards against the Panthers?"
Easy. That's how.
Because analysts keep forgetting what this Broncos defense does.
It breaks people.
Not their bodies but their spirits. It beats opponents down, doing it slowly at first to lull them into thinking there's no attack. Then it pounces. Finally, it slays.
Going into week 5, Derek Wolfe and Von Miller have 9.5 combined sacks - that is more than the following teams ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/LxTEQPksJt— Dave Althouse (@davealthouse) October 6, 2016
The Falcons' offensive stats are worth paying attention to. They have the No. 1 passing offense in the league with Ryan throwing the best among all QBs (1,473 yards with a 72.1 percent completion rating), the top receiver for yards by Jones (488), and the No. 7 running back for yards in Devonta Freeman (322).
And thanks to Andrew Mason's hard-earned research below - in which the Falcons' offense doesn't fall below top six in any offensive category and is the top team in seven categories - it's easy to see why some still can't believe:
- Points per game: 1 (38.0)
- Yardage per game: 1 (478.8)
- Yardage per play: 1 (7.48)
- First-down rate: 1 (one every 2.785 plays)
- Passing yardage per game: 1 (354.3)
- Yardage per pass play: 1 (9.51)
- First-down rate -- pass: 1 (one every 2.29 plays)
- Rushing yardage per game: 6 (124.5)
- Yardage per rush: 4 (4.65)
- First-down rate -- run: 4 (one every 3.82 plays)
- Turnovers per game: T-3 (0.5 per game)
But they are the same people who didn't think Broncos could win the Super Bowl with a No. 1 defense. They are the same people who only started giving the Broncos a chance for repeating as world champs last week when the team remained one of three teams undefeated.
So let's remind them a few defensive stats as well:
- Broncos are 9-0 since the playoffs, neutralizing such offensive powerhouses as the Steelers, the Patriots and the Panthers.
- Offenses are scoring almost 10 points less than their average when they face the Broncos defense
- Von Miller leads the NFL in sacks so far this season (5.5) while Derek Wolfe is tied for third (4)
- Broncos lead the league in total sacks at 17
- Aqib Talib has three interceptions, one of which he has taken to the house
"It's just how we play them," linebacker Brandon Marshall told Mason. "I think we're totally different than anybody else. When you count a so-called juggernaut offense, when they play our defense, I feel like you can't look them as the same because of how we play them, how we dictate the tempo, and how we dictate what we do."
It's not that Atlanta won't be a threat.
It's that they won't be the same against the Broncos.
When Ryan can't find any open receivers immediately, he will either throw it away or hold on too long, in which case Miller and Co. will be waiting.
And if the offensive line takes care of Miller on one edge, someone has to account for DeMarcus Ware/Shane Ray/Shaquil Barrett on the other.
If Freeman or Ryan tries to run up the middle, they'll have to contend with Derek Wolfe or Sly Williams in the middle. And even if an offense manages to get around this D once, they won't be doing it again.
"It always motivates us to go out there each week and shut down our opponent," said Darian Stewart. "Every week we have a new task and this week they happen to be the No. 1 passing offense, so that's a big task for us and it's our duty to go out there and shut it down."
All the same, though, it's good to hear coaches and players saying the right things and respecting what the Falcons will be bringing on the ground and in the air on Sunday at Mile High.
"I see an explosive offense," said Miller of this weekend's opponent. "I see a quarterback that is making all of the right decisions and all of the right throws. I see a comfortable quarterback. I see a solid offensive line and one of the best running backs in the National Football League. You've got to give the tight ends some love, too."
And Miller definitely gave his old SEC pal Julio Jones credit for what he's done.
"Julio, he's been killing it since Day 1," said Miller. "Hopefully we are be able to slow him down a little bit come game time."
But it's also good to hear these defensive players getting fired up.
"We lick our chops every week," said T.J. Ward. "This is another opportunity to go out there and prove ourselves and put another performance on film. It doesn't matter who we get week-to-week. We want to do our best so it doesn't matter who's coming in here."
Like I said, easy.
Let's make that, easy-peasy, orange-crush-squeezy.
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