If fans got to vote for coaches to represent the AFC and NFC in the NFL’s Annual All Star game, Denver’s Dennis Allen would the be front runner for defensive coordinator in our book.
The Saints’ secondary coach last season, Allen was hired by the Broncos last the offseason in hopes that he would turn around their less than formidable defense. Under Allen, the Denver’s ‘D’ has gone from dead last in 2010 to middle of the pack in 2011.
Last season, the Broncos allowed 390.8 yards per game (32nd). Through nine games this season, the Broncos have allowed 360.7 yards per game (18th).
The return of Pro Bowl pass rusher Elvis Dumervil and arrival of rookie linebacker Von Miller came at a good time for Allen, whose aggressive defense has recorded 24.0 sacks this season (9th). In 2010, the Broncos recorded 23.0 sacks in sixteen games (32nd).
Confusing offensive lines, Denver has installed complex blitz packages that have resulted in four sacks coming from the secondary. The increased pressure has resulted in six interceptions (23rd), just four less than the team recorded in nearly half as many games last season (30th).
Against the run, the Broncos numbers have also greatly improved. Having allowed 1,058 rushing yards, Denver’s defense ranks sixteenth out of thirty-two teams. Last season, Denver allowed 2,473 rushing yards, which ranked second to last.
The Broncos have also done a better job this season of eliminating big plays. In 2010, the Broncos allowed 22 runs of twenty or more yards (32nd) and five rushes of forty or more yards (T-31st). Through nine games this season, the Broncos have allowed eight runs of twenty or more yards (21st) and just one of forty or more yards (T-2nd).
Denver has allowed the ninth-least rushing touchdowns (5) this year, compared to the thirty-second most allowed last year (26). The team that allowed an NFL-worst 55 touchdowns in 2010 is on pace to surrender 46 this season. The difference in nine fewer touchdowns is 54 points (not including extra points).
The numbers clearly show that while the Broncos defense still leaves a lot to be desired, the unit is tremendously improved from last season. Much of the credit for Denver’s defensive turnaround should be given to Allen.
How about it, Broncos Country? Does Denver’s defense look like a different unit from last season? I might even venture as far as to say the ‘D’ has looked scary the past two weeks.