Denver Broncos run defense tabbed as second-best in NFL

Domata Peko is a big reason, literally, why the Broncos run defense was so good in 2017. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
Domata Peko is a big reason, literally, why the Broncos run defense was so good in 2017. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

Since Von Miller began terrorizing quarterbacks as a rookie and “No Fly Zone” took off during the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl run in 2015, that’s been the identity of Denver’s defense – pass rush and pass coverage.

Entering 2018, though, the Bronco defense may have a new claim to fame. Pro Football Focus ranked the Broncos as the No. 2 run-defense for 2018, trailing only the Green Bay Packers.

As a team, the Broncos ranked second in the NFL in missed-tackle percentage on run plays in 2017, just 9.4 percent. Though normally associated with his ferocity in the pass rush, Miller also leads the run defense for the Broncos, earning the highest run defense grade of any edge defender in 2017 (94.4).

Safety Justin Simmons and linebacker Todd Davis each earned a grade of 86.1 for their run D, rounding out the team’s top three returning run-stoppers.

Denver ranked fifth in rushing yards allowed per game last season at just under 90 yards. They were also tied for sixth in rushing touchdowns allowed (9) and first in first down percentage ( just 15.9 percent).

Rookie Bradley Chubb figures to make an immediate impact in the run defense category as well. Chubb produced an 11.0 run stop percentage at North Carolina State last season, the second-highest among rookie defense ends.

In another set of rankings, PFF still ranked the Broncos as the No. 7 pass rush in the NFL. Led by Miller, Chubb and Shaquil Barrett on the outside, the combination of pass rush and run-stopping ability is tantalizing among Denver’s front seven.

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