The Denver Broncos are 0-2 to start the 2019 NFL season and blame has been thrown at Joe Flacco, Garett Bolles, the offense, and the officiating crews. The real culprit to the early-season woes is the defense, however.
There are three issues holding this defense back. They are as follows.
It was supposed to be the team’s strong suit with new defensive-minded head coach Vic Fangio and some elite players like Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Chris Harris, Jr.
Those offseason hopes have not yet come to fruition. The Broncos' defense has tallied zero sacks, has given up 125 yards rushing per game, and have exactly zero takeaways. That is downright awful production from a once-vaunted defense.
There is much ado about the lack of pass rush, which is definitely concerning. Since Von Miller was drafted, the Broncos have only once gone two games in a row with no sacks. However, the bigger concern is the lack of takeaways.
The defense has zero interceptions and no fumble recoveries. Worse, they have yet to even force a fumble. The Broncos couldn’t take the ball away from the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, even though in Week 2 the Raiders gave the ball to the Kansas City Chiefs defense twice.
The Broncos also got zero takeaways from the Chicago Bears in Week 2, yet the Green Bay Packers managed to steal one from them in Week 1.
The lack of takeaways is the cardinal issue and if Denver cannot rectify that problem, the defense will be playing catch-up all season long.
No Pass Rush
The next issue is the non-existent pass rush. The Broncos were supposed to light the NFL on fire this season with the duo of Chubb and Miller. In fact, some were saying the Chubb would be a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. That, so far, couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Broncos lost to the Bears on Sunday for a multitude of reasons, but Miller not showing up on the final drive sticks out like a sore thumb. The star of the team has to shine bright when needed most, but Miller was nowhere to be found. One sack would have ended the game and the Broncos would be 1-1.
Porous Run Defense
Lost in all the blame on individual players is the Broncos' inability to stop the run. In two games, the opposing offenses have run at will to the tune of 126 yards per game. This is a team issue, not just that of a couple of players falling short of the mark.
In Week 1, the Raiders converted several third downs with rushing plays and on the opening drive, the running game set up two manageable third downs of three and four and three and two, respectively. That drive ended in a touchdown and set the tone for the rest of the game.
In Week 2, the Bears put up 153 yards on the ground. Cordarrelle Patterson’s 46-yard scamper set up the Bears' only touchdown and was shown on most highlight reels.
Also, on that drive were runs of 12 and 14 yards that did not get as much attention, but showed the lack of run-stuffing that a great defense needs. That was a much too easy march down the field.
If the defense cannot make changes to fix these three issues, the Broncos will be in for a long and miserable season once again.