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The Broncos Pass Defense Is Somehow Even Better This Season - FiveThirtyEight Sports

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  • The Broncos Pass Defense Is Somehow Even Better This Season - FiveThirtyEight Sports

    If you haven't really been paying attention or fell asleep for 8 weeks, the No Fly Zone has been playing out of their minds this season, and Five Thirty Eight compiled some stats to prove it.
    Last season, the Broncos were defined by having one of best defenses in NFL history: After a dominant regular season, Denver’s defense carried the team to a Super Bowl title. The defense was particularly dominant against the pass, allowing just 5.1 yards per pass play to opposing offenses. But this year? The defense is, remarkably, even better.

    The Broncos defense is good

    YEAR NET Y/A OF OPPONENTS VS. NFL AVG. PLAYOFF RESULT NET Y/A NEXT SEASON GMS 1-8
    1 Minnesota 1970 3.46 -2.05 Lost Div -1.48
    2 Pittsburgh 2008 4.30 -1.86 Won SB -0.77
    3 Miami 1982 4.03 -1.81 Lost SB -0.66
    4 Miami 1973 3.51 -1.77 Won SB 0.74
    5 Minnesota 1989 4.47 -1.64 Lost Div -0.19
    6 Pittsburgh 1974 3.75 -1.60 Won SB -1.25
    7 New York 2009 4.61 -1.55 Lost Conf -0.37
    8 Dallas 1977 3.69 -1.49 Won SB -0.09
    9 Pittsburgh 2011 4.87 -1.45 Lost WC -1.05
    10 Minnesota 1975 3.99 -1.45 Lost Div -1.49
    11 New Orleans 1992 4.35 -1.43 Lost WC -0.54
    12 Tampa Bay 1979 4.36 -1.40 Lost Conf 0.63
    13 Minnesota 1971 4.18 -1.39 Lost Div -1.19
    14 Tampa Bay 2002 4.50 -1.38 Won SB -0.82
    15 Oakland 1975 4.07 -1.38 Lost Conf 0.85
    16 Seattle 2013 4.85 -1.36 Won SB -0.19
    17 Los Angeles 1980 4.60 -1.36 Lost WC -0.58
    18 Atlanta 1977 3.82 -1.36 — -1.08
    19 Philadelphia 1991 4.62 -1.35 — -0.32
    20 Denver 2015 5.11 -1.30 Won SB -1.73

    Football studies have generally shown that offenses are more consistent from year to year than defenses, and regression to the mean is always a key part of any analysis for a historically great unit. As a result, we wouldn’t expect Denver’s 2016 pass defense to be anywhere near as good as the 2015 one. And that’s exactly what you see with most of the other teams on the list above.

    The other pass defenses on the top 20 list above were, on average, 1.53 net yards per attempt better than average against the pass in their dominant season; however, in their first eight games of the following season, they were just 0.52 NY/A better than average. That’s a sign of how difficult is it for dominant defenses to sustain that level of excellence over a long period. Defensive backs and pass rushers are two of football’s most health-dependent roles, and even one player losing a step or leaving in free agency can sink a unit. But so far this season, the Broncos have been even better that last season, jumping from 1.30 NY/A better than league average to 1.73.
    Completion percentage

    Last year, Denver’s pass defense allowed 60 percent of passes to be completed, which ranked eighth in the league; this season, Denver has allowed opposing passers to complete just 53.5 percent of all passes, easily the best rate in the league through eight weeks. And on passes to wide receivers, Denver’s at 49.6 percent, the only defense in the league holding opposing wideouts to a rate under 50 percent.

    The Broncos are blessed to have two of the best cornerbacks in the game in Chris Harris and Aqib Talib. According to Pro Football Focus (link requires subscription), those two rank as two of the best three corners in the NFL this season, both overall and in pass coverage.1 And while the loss of linebacker Danny Trevathan (and pass rusher Malik Jackson) was supposed to harm the defense, linebacker Brandon Marshall and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart have helped mitigate any damage. Denver ranks seventh in completion percentage on passes to tight ends at 59.7 percent, which nearly matches last year’s production (59 percent, fourth).
    The Broncos pass defense guided the team to a championship last year, helping shut down Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Cam Newton in the playoffs. This year, the pass defense has been even better: With a dominant pass rush, a back seven that doesn’t allow many completions, and a strong-tackling unit that limits gains, Denver’s allowing a minuscule 4.7 net yards per pass play. And while last year the pass defense allowed 19 touchdowns against just 14 interceptions, this year those numbers have flipped, with only six touchdowns against eight interceptions. By most measures, this pass defense is even better than last year’s. That’s a very scary fact for the other 31 teams in the league.
    Full link below

    The Broncos Pass Defense Is Somehow Even Better This Season
    Last edited by ChupaThingy; 11-05-2016, 08:46 PM.
    2014/2015 Adopt-A-Bronco : TJ Ward - GO DUCKS!

  • #2
    It's also interesting to note, that of those 20 most dominant pass defenses in league history, only the 2015 Broncos and 1970 Vikings had a better "net yards per attempt better than average" the following season (through 8 games). I guess one of the reasons why so many people predicted a fall-off for this team.
    2014/2015 Adopt-A-Bronco : TJ Ward - GO DUCKS!

    Comment


    • #3
      IMO the 2015 Defense was better from what I have seen so far. That includes pass rush, ability to cover RBs and TEs as well as make plays on the ball close to the goal line.

      Leaving final evaluation until end of season as I have seen some players getting better from last year and getting better as the season has moved on.

      2016 Defense is elite...and has opportunity to still show it can be special

      2015 was one of the best defenses I have seen ever fielded in the NFL
      Time to build on the win and grow the team from some solid play higher level of play

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Hadez View Post
        IMO the 2015 Defense was better from what I have seen so far. That includes pass rush, ability to cover RBs and TEs as well as make plays on the ball close to the goal line.

        Leaving final evaluation until end of season as I have seen some players getting better from last year and getting better as the season has moved on.

        2016 Defense is elite...and has opportunity to still show it can be special

        2015 was one of the best defenses I have seen ever fielded in the NFL
        I think Brandon Marshall's regression this season has really hurt the defense.
        Anonymity is cowardice, and cowards are not known for their wisdom.

        Comment

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