The Orange Crush is back?
This Denver defense has been so scary it resembles the physical bunch that personified professional football in the Mile High City in the 1970s.
Through 16 weeks, the Broncos D ranks fifth-best in scoring, third in yards allowed and the mere five touchdowns allowed on the ground are second-best in the NFL. What the unit has done against opposing teams’ ground games is great – allowing only 76.4 yards per on the winning streak – swarming to gang-tackle ball-carriers.
But what truly makes the Denver defense special is its pair of pass-rushers that are relentless in their pursuit of the quarterback.
Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, or “Doom and Gloom,” are frightening foes to see snarling before the snap for an opposing signal-caller.
Dumervil is a more traditional defensive end, lining up in a three-point stance and using leverage to win battles. Dumervil is short in stature – only 5’11” – but he gets lower than the tackles towering over him, pushing through their chest to get deep into the backfield. On nearly every passing play, Dumervil works to get to the QB – being held many times throughout the season – but fighting through to rack up 11 sacks. Once he makes it there, he loves to force fumbles; six in all this year.
Maybe the most important fumble he forced was during Denver’s historic comeback over San Diego in Week Six that swung the momentum in the division and jump-started the wonderful winning streak. Dumervil rushed around the outside and hit Philip Rivers in his passing arm as he brought it up to throw, forcing the fumble that was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Tony Carter.
Opposite of Dumervil, who’s been a dominant force for seven seasons, lines up second-year man Miller.
Miller’s a shooting star, shining brighter than nearly every other player in the NFL on the defensive end. Indeed, he’s a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, though it looks like he’ll be edged out by the Texans’ J.J. Watt.
Still, what Miller has done is magnificent. His 17.5 sacks set a new single season record for a Broncos player, third-best in the entire league. The 6’3” 237-pounder lines up in a two-point stance, standing up to look the offensive tackle in the eye before making him look silly. Miller uses a variety of techniques to get to the quarterback; he can power-rush or swim like everyone else, or utilize a unique “sprint-rush.” He simply runs around a tackle before even being touched, or dance around to juke him and make the guy look even more overwhelmed.
Miller’s a monster, also forcing six fumbles, recording 13 run stuffs, all while intercepting a pass and taking it back to the house as well.
Together, Miller and Dumervil have accounted for 28.5 of the Broncos’ league-leading 48 sacks this season, and all that pressure leads to errant passes and interceptions as well.
Denver is much more than an offensive juggernaut – their defense has contributed greatly to the win streak and they’ll have to continue to do so if the Broncos want to win in the playoffs.
It all starts and ends with the men up front, Doom and Gloom, the reason why they were both named to the Pro Bowl. Each will look to add to their stat totals this afternoon against Kansas City, with the game kicking off at 2:25 p.m. MT on CBS.
The Orange Crush is back.
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Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow Rich on twitter or facebook for all your Denver Broncos news and opinion.