The Denver Broncos’ defense could be in for a rough month and a half to begin the 2013 regular season. The reason behind it is simple. They’ll struggle to rush the passer.
Really, this saga didn’t begin when we found out today that Von Miller would miss the first six games of 2013 due to a suspension. No, this started earlier in the offseason when Elvis Dumervil’s agent forgot how to use a fax machine.
Now, the Broncos will be without two excellent pass rushers that they had just a season ago. Individually, the Broncos could have absorbed the loss of either Dumervil or Miller’s production, but together, it makes for a difficult situation.
The Broncos’ defensive problem will now be their inability to rush the passer. The remedy may be more creative looks that attempt to provide a free lane to the quarterback instead of relying on individual talent to get there.
The losses will hurt the Broncos’ offensive productivity as well. As a quarterback, Peyton Manning has always been able to give his defenses a big lead, and in Indianapolis, the defense was built around just that. After Manning established an early lead, the defense would tee off on the opposing quarterback, and it would only go downhill from there.
Without a pass rush, teams that play the Broncos in Miller’s absence such as the Ravens, Giants, Eagles and Cowboys will be able to give their quarterbacks the opportunities to let plays develop downfield, something that normally wouldn’t be available. Because of that, opposing teams’ drives will last longer, and the Broncos’ own high-powered offense will see the field less.
Don’t get me wrong. Even without Von Miller in the lineup, the Broncos still have a tough defense, and with it, one of the best offensive units in the NFL. Still, it’s just one more weakness that opponents can exploit to begin the season.