The Denver Broncos’ Defense was Too Conservative, Too Careful


The Denver Broncos‘ defense measures out well if you look at the raw stats. They didn’t give up many yards, either through the air or on the ground. They didn’t give up big plays. Chris Harris, in particular, was incredible at not giving up explosive plays—or touchdowns.

However, the defense still ranked right in the middle of the pack when it came to points given up. There’s been speculation that this was due to a conservative, careful mindset. They didn’t make mistakes, but they also failed to make plays.

Don’t give up a bomb, don’t get an interception.

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Was it a trade-off that was worth it? Not really, not with the incredible strength on this roster. Not that they should give up more plays or be reckless, but they’re never going to be elite if they don’t fly around the field and try to be elite.

Jump passes, throw hits. Play like the Orange Crush. Try to dominate people.

There are two reasons the defense hasn’t done that in the past, and one was John Fox. When you think “conservative, careful mindset”, you think John Fox. Remember when he took a knee against the Baltimore Ravens? He’s never been one to take a chance.

And it helped the team be good, but it never got them to that Super Bowl win. You have to take chances to win.

It looks like his mindset really spilled over into that defense, even though he wasn’t the coordinator. The team gets its identity from the coach, and the Broncos had a conservative identity. It kept them from being as incredible as they could have been.

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The second reason was a reliance on the offense, an expectation that they would score points. The defense didn’t feel like it had to make big plays. The Broncos weren’t going to win 21-14 on a pick-six in the fourth. They were going to win because Peyton Manning threw three or four touchdowns.

And the defense knew it.

This year has to be different. The defense has to come out swinging, getting sacks and, perhaps more importantly, creating turnovers. They must be a defense that people fear, not just one that does not put the Broncos in a hole.

It has to be the mindset for the entire team. That’s the fire John Elway wanted. They can’t be a laid-back, careful team that plays pretty well. They have to be an angry, determined team that seeks to win on every single play. That’s true on offense and defense, but it’s going to be up to the defense to really set the stage and create that aggressive attitude.

If it works, it’s going to be very fun to watch.

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