Was our Defense as good as we thought? Where were the strong and weak points?

This may or may not come as a shock for some, but Denver’s overall pass defense was ranked 15th. You read that corectly. When our corners faced the 1WR, we were second to Jacksonville. On the 2WR we were 9th. Against all other WRs, we were gasp, 31st. 29th vs tight ends and 20th vs catching running backs. These numbers come from DVOA.

The good news, I suppose, is we faced offenses that when combined ranked 7th. For those who want to poke the Jags, theirs were ranked, 31st.

Chris Harris, Jr. says he didn’t like playing slot, of passes directed to L, R and M, to the middle we were ranked, 10th. To the left, 18th, R, 13th. (Slots mostly play the middle, in case you didn’t know.)

When it came to passes thrown under 15 yards, Denver was ranked 12th. 15th on passes over 15. What this tells us is there is some serious work to do in the linebacking and secondary, and contracts need to be looked at with a fine toothed comb. Any questions on why Johnnie Lynn was fired?

We were ranked 11th when it came to getting to the QB. This must improve. I believe when Shane Ray is fully healed, DeMarcus Walker is played where he should be, this rank will rise. Which may be why Pags was fired, as he was the outside linebacker coach. However, it’s clear the inside guys need some work, too.

Now for the good news. On run defense, Denver was ranked overall, 2nd. Hello, Domata Peko, Adam Gotsis and the rotating guys at LDE. Against power runs, we were ranked 1, on stopping runs at the next level, we were 2nd. In open field, we were ranked 9th.

Backed by what we saw, these run aways were rarely up the middle. In fact, Denver was ranked third best at stopping runs up the middle. When runners targeted the edge, we were 9th where Von Miller typically was, 10th for Gotsis and 16th at left edge, typically where Shaq Barrett was, along with Ray for a few games.

We were first when runners tried the gap where Pek and Derek Wolfe/Shelby Harris typically lined up. Teams avoided running there, targeting that gap only 8% of the time. What’s really incredible, though, is teams targeted Peko 56% of the time and he still ranked 3rd best. Around 170 times.

A certain crusty coach may say stats are for losers, but for fans who want something else to go along with their eye test, sometimes they’re helpful to get a fuller picture. Like layer two of a 3-D puzzle.

What these stats can’t measure is how long our guys played before fatigue or dejection set in. However, as a precaution against using that as an excuse, Jacksonville has a QB who spent most of the season living in the well of poor play. They still ranked above us in almost every category, even with many games where they lost the time of possession.  Remember, it’s a team sport.

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