The Denver Broncos‘ defensive numbers three weeks into this season do not necessarily depict how the defense will look for the remainder of the season. As of now, the Broncos are No. 1 in the league in rush defense, allowing only 43.3 yards per game, but they are ranked 30th in pass defense, allowing 327 yards per contest.
These rankings have more to do with Peyton Manning and the Denver offense than they do the defense. With an average margin of victory of over 18 points, opposing offenses have been forced to throw the ball, causing the gap between average rush yards and pass yards allowed.
With Von Miller being suspended for the first six weeks, the Broncos’ pass rush has been led by Robert Ayers and Shaun Phillips with 3.0 and 2.5 sacks respectively. Though Phillips and Ayers have been solid in Von Miller’s absence, they are no where near as physically gifted as the former No. 2 overall pick out of Texas A&M. Von Miller will have an immediate impact rushing the quarterback upon his Week 7 return against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
The Broncos’ secondary has been a pleasant surprise despite missing future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. As a collective trio, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Harris and Tony Carter have filled the void at cornerback left by Bailey while recovering from a foot injury. Bailey has been listed as questionable the last two weeks on the injury report and was limited in practice on Wednesday. The Broncos face the Philadelphia Eagles this week and can use all the healthy bodies they can get against Chip Kelly and his fast paced offense.
Linebacker and captain of the defense, Wesley Woodyard has really stepped up and made his presence known this season. Not only has his play on the field improved but his leadership in the huddle has made the biggest impact on a team missing arguably their two best defensive players.
Once Champ Bailey and Von Miller both return to the Denver defense, you can expect to see the passing yards allowed decrease immensely. Miller being one of the top pass rushers in the league will not give opposing quarterbacks a second to breathe before he is on top of them, and Bailey may not be the player he used to be at age 35, but he can still stick with many of the top receivers in the league.