The Denver Broncos will miss a crucial part of their last six seasons because of the departure of Elvis Dumervil, but they have done a great job piecing together some players that should be able to fill the void left behind by Dumervil.
In Dumervil’s six seasons in Denver, he averaged around 30 tackles and 10 sacks and was well known for his pass rushing skills, especially after he led the NFL in sacks in 2009 with 17. What people don’t understand is that his run defense was lacking and sometimes a couple big plays here and there are not as important as being solid in all phases of the game. It’s okay to give up a couple sacks to be able to stop the run more consistently.
The Broncos are paying more attention to stopping the run with guys who can also pressure the quarterback early and often.
The recent additions of Shaun Phillips, Sylvester Williams, Terrance Knighton and the strides that Derek Wolfe should make in his second season should be sufficient enough to produce the sacks that were left by Dumervil and the run defense should be more effective as well.
Robert Ayers was a first-round pick for the Broncos six years ago and has never lived up to expectations, but he’s a decent player that is slated to start at defensive end in Dumervil’s place. I don’t see Ayers lasting long as the starter there because Phillips has been much more productive over the last several seasons with the San Diego Chargers, averaging around 50 tackles and 10 sacks per season in a similar role that Dumervil has played in recent years.
Two new big defensive tackles in Williams and Knighton should help anchor down the defensive front and not allow many holes up the middle of the defense and Knighton has been known to record two or three sacks per season also. Williams is a little raw out of college but should be a run stuffer who can sniff out screens and apply big pressure on the quarterback when needed.
Wolfe played a lot of defensive tackle last season in passing situations and was able to record 40 tackles and six sacks. Wolfe may play a role at defensive end and tackle this season and see an increase in playing time.
There may be an adjustment period for the Broncos but I see these additions and current players being able to outperform what was left behind when Dumervil departed.