Joshin' Around: Denver Broncos' Defense Eerily Similar to a High School Defense

Josh VitaleCorrespondent IJanuary 8, 2009

When looking at an average high school football team’s defense, one notices many common trends. 


For starters, the defense consists of two types of players: the fastest guys and the biggest guys.


My high school follows this model. The defensive backfield and linebackers are some of the quickest, most aggressive players on the team, and the defensive line is large, in charge, and slow. Game after game, the Knights are burned by the pass and gashed by the run. 


Sound familiar?


The Denver Broncos are eerily similar to my high school. The fastest guys run rampant throughout the roster, as Denver is home to one of the smallest, fastest defenses in the NFL


D.J. Williams, Nate Webster, Boss Bailey, and Jamie Winborn are considered the fastest quartet of linebackers in the league, and Champ Bailey and Dré Bly are two of the faster cornerbacks in the game.


Do not mistake this as a compliment though. Outside of Williams and Bailey, these players are too fast for their own good, constantly missing tackles and getting burned by playmakers around the league.


It only gets worse from there. Three of the Bronco’s defensive ends—Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss, and Tim Crowder—are light in the pants, with none of them weighing more than 275 pounds. While this allows them to be quick off the ball and fast to the quarterback, they are susceptible to the run and gashed game after game.


And when the Broncos finally got big, they went slow. The big men up front for the Broncos are John Engelberger, Ebenezer Ekuban, Dewayne Robertson, Kenny Peterson, and Marcus Thomas, and even with their size, they are constantly getting into trouble. 


Four of these players are over the 300-pound mark, and all of them are slow off the ball, slow to shed blocks, and slow in pursuit.


Personnel wise, the Broncos combination of small, fast players and big, slow players—with no middle ground—is a recipe for disaster.


This isn’t the only common trend though; when I think of an average high school football team, I think of a ridiculously over-aggressive nature. I think of players leaving their gaps, taking bad angles on runners, and thinking of little but laying a big hit on someone.


These happen to be some of the Broncos' specialties.


The Broncos, with their deadly mixture of small speed and beefy sloth, were sometimes made to look like high schoolers by the better offenses in the league.  It is a hard, sad pill to swallow, but it’s the truth.


I cannot remember a game where I didn’t see at least one example of this; whether it was Bly getting burned deep, Webster over pursuing a play, or Robertson and Thomas letting backs run right through them, it always killed the team.


I truly hope that the Broncos' new head coach, general manager, and defensive coordinator can work together and fix the defensive mess that is the Broncos, because it is sad watching Jay Cutler lead the Pro Bowl offense down the field, knowing he has a high-school defense waiting to blow the game.


Be sure to look out for the next installment of "Joshin' Around."