To get an idea of what to expect for this upcoming season, I took a look back. 2012 is when the defense became what it is today because Jack Del Rio and John Fox knew what they were doing. Game Plan/calling plays, not so much, but putting a team together, they killed it. Offense and defense. Mike McCoy, then Adam Gase, built a thing of beauty (along with a GOAT QB). While we like to scoff at Fox and JDR, we owe them. John Elway did hire the right people to turn the ship around (minus Gary’s crapfest offense).
I’m going to repeat, again. This team is not on some ticking time bomb on defense. Yes, when Aqib leaves, it will hurt; however, Bradley Roby is being groomed and so are Justin Simmons and Will Parks. Shane Ray is picking up where DeMarcus Ware left off. DeMarcus Walker and Brendan Langely are also being mentored. Middle linebacker has the same and no doubt that will be a top draft target next season. This team has great coaches, plus the right balance of new and seasoned.
As you look through these seasons, you’ll see panicking is dumb. Decisions based on panic is unfounded. The only hurdle that stands in its way is the ‘I’ word. That can’t be controlled, only have the guys in the best shape they can be and pray for the best.
In 2016, every defensive back (No Fly Zone), made an interception. All seven. Aqib Talib and Darian Stewart each lead with three. Aqib had 12 pass defended and CHJ had 11. Miller and Stewart each forced three fumbles. Shane Ray had the lone fumble for a TD. Von Miller lead with most sacks at 13.5, with Ray next at 8. Our offense lost 24 fumbles.
In 2015, Aqib lead the way again, with three interceptions. Unlike 2016 when every NFZ made an INT (and accounted for all of them) not all made INTs and linebackers Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshal made some, as well. Pass defended leaders were Talib at 13, Stewart and Roby each had 10. Miller and Shaq Barrett lead the way in forced fumbles with four apiece. Roby made the FTD. That year, Miller had 11 sacks, Ware had 7.5 and the rest of the defense went insane. Our offense lost 16. Having Wolfe and Ware miss some games and Ray still a pup, I believe is why there was a tad less production than in 2014.
2014 saw more interceptions; however, less members of the secondary made them. Aqib and Rahim Moore were each tied at four. Aqib and CHJ each lead the way with 18 pass defended. Brandon Marshall and Bradley Roby each had two forced fumbles. Amazingly the exact number of sacks of 41 happened as 2016. Miller accounted for 14.
When you look at 2013‘s defense, it shows how injuries at the end of a season can seriously blow a SB. We lost Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CHJ and Von Miller. DRC, CHJ and Trevathan each had three INTs. DRC had 19 (!) pass defended, CHJ had 13, Kayvon Webster and Trevathan each had 10. Talk about a huge blow. Miller, Danny and Duke Ihenacho each had 3 forced fumbles. MIller had 5 sacks in his 9 games. Shaun Phillips had 10.
2012 saw the same fairly even defensive numbers. Since JDR hit Denver, every year our defense has been good enough to win a Super Bowl, barring injuries at the wrong time. And a 12 second kneel down (%#$). CHJ and Wesley Woodyard lead with three interceptions a piece. Tony Carter, Mike Adams and CHJ, each had 12 passes defended. Elvis Dumervil (sniffle) had six forced fumbles. Von Miller had 18.5 sacks, Doom had 11. Offense lost 22.
The seasons laid out. Not a lot of fluctuations. Look at the sacks, 52 or 41. When Miller has a tag team partner, the defense hits 52. This means it’s up to Ray to be that guy. On tackles, I’m dropping the number below the average because I think there won’t be as many because the DL will be so stout, more sacks are made. Plus, more pass break-ups. Based on averages, plus looking at our players, 2017 should come pretty close.
Here is how the NFZ has performed. In case you were wondering if Fox/JDR actually helped, the 2010 defense before them was ranked 32rd in PA and YA. In 2011, the defense was ranked, 24/20 for points allowed and yards given up. Injuries have been the downfall.