Only time will tell how much the 2009 Broncos Defense has improved. But one thing is clear—this year's D is markedly improved over the last couple of years.
I realize that the Cincinnati Bengals won't remind anyone of the 2007 Patriots. But with a healthy Carson Palmer and the offensive weapons they have, I would expect them to have a respectable production this season. They should likely be in the top 10 offenses by the end of the year. Sunday, they scored 31 points against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field to beat them 31-24—not too bad, in my opinion.
Last week, the Broncos held the Bengals' offense scoreless for the better part of four quarters. Granted, the Bengals made several mistakes that may have prevented a score. But all teams make a mistake here and there.
Today, the Broncos defense held the Browns to six points. This is the same Browns team that scored 20 points last week on the Vikings' respectable defense. This week's performance included limiting the Browns offense to 54 yards rushing and 200 yards total. "Doom" Elvis Dumervil had 4 sacks, 7 tackles and forced a fumble to lead the Broncos D. Pretty impressive against any team in the NFL.
While this Broncos defense hasn't been perfect, they showed some things that we haven't seen from the Broncos D in quite a while. Some observations:
Aggressiveness - this unit has a plan and executes it in a way that disrupts the offense. They aren't waiting to react to whatever the offense does.
Unpredictability - Nolan is bringing some excellent game planning and taking advantage of the players skills by showcasing them in different situations.
Leadership - Dawkins leadership and enthusiasm is infectious and it is showing up on the field for ALL of the defense - not just him.
To put things in perspective:
The last time the Denver Broncos held an opponent on the road to less than seven points was on October 17, 2004 @ Oakland Raiders when Denver won 31-3
The last time the Denver Broncos held an opponent to less than seven points was on October 15, 2006 when Denver won 13-3 @ home.
The last time the Broncos held consecutive opponents to seven or less points was September 2006.
So far, I think the result has to be better than most expected here. It's quite clear to me that they have reversed the trend of the past few years and will not be setting any records for points allowed or fewest turnovers.
I have a confident feeling about this defense for the first time in years. I look forward to see how this unit plays against some of the better teams, especially after having some more experience together and building more chemistry as a team.
After week two, without the evening or Monday games played yet, the Broncos already are tops in the league with only 13 points allowed in two games.
Test three—Oakland Raiders next week should be an interesting dress rehearsal for the tough part of the schedule coming up after that. Till then, let's all toast to the fact that the "D" is back in Denver.