Elvis Dumervil Loss May Doom Broncos: Remembering the Chargers' 2008 Tragedy

Heneli IongiAnalyst IAugust 8, 2010

SAN DIEGO - AUGUST 09:   Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers reacts during a pre-season game against the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium on August 9, 2008 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

You heard it here first.  The Broncos will go down this season.  You must be wondering why I have a picture of Shawne Merriman up but you'll see why in a bit.  Before you start your bashing, take some time to listen and read why I feel this way.  The Broncos are following in the same footsteps of the Chargers 2008 season and it all starts with the loss of Elvis Dumervil.  Before I start talking about the current 2010 Broncos, let me take you back to the Chargers 2008 season.

Coming into the 2008, the Chargers were coming off of a 11-5 record and a loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.  Shawne Merriman had injury concerns during the 2007 season but it didn't show it's true face until the beginning of the 2008 season.  In 2007, the Chargers ran a "attack" style defense that often had CB's playing cover-3 press coverage.  That defense worked under Ted Cottrell and the whole scheme is built off of one player that can demand pressure off the edge.  That player was Merriman. Merriman did that well for Wade Phillips and Ted Cottrell.  

When Merriman went down for the entire season, the Chargers thought they had enough depth with Jyles Tucker, Antwann Applewhite, and Shaun Phillips to rush the passer. Even I thought the Chargers had the depth to move forward.  The Chargers were proven wrong.  

With Merriman out, none of the replacements were able to command the type of double team and pressure off the edge that Merriman was able to do.  With no pressure in the first eight games of the season, the Chargers defense got carved up as they let many teams make comebacks in the final minutes of the game especially in the Broncos and Panthers game.  With no pressure from anyone while Merriman was hurt, CB's like Cromartie and Jammer looked very mediocre as they continued to struggle.  

If it wasn't for the Chargers making a scheme and philosophy change in week nine of the season during bye week, the Chargers would have surely had a 6-10 record as they were 3-5 in the first 8 games.  Due to the philosophy change under Ron Rivera which runs a "bend but don't break" defense, the Chargers went 5-3 ultimately lining up the stars for a AFC West Championship game in week 17 against the Broncos who ended up losing really bad.

The reason this information is so important is because the Broncos run the same exact "attack" style defense that the Chargers ran in the past with Wade Phillips and Ted Cottrell.  A "attack" 3-4 defense relies heavily on a OLB providing extreme amounts of pressure.  The Ravens have Terrell Suggs.  The Steelers have James Harrison.  The Cowboys have DeMarcus Ware.  The Packers have Clay Mathews.  Yes, the Broncos have Elvis Dumervil.  

Against the Chargers last season, the Cowboys couldn't pressure Philip Rivers with DeMarcus Ware being injured that game.  So you see, the loss of a elite 3-4 OLB in a "attack" style defense is HUGE.

With Elvis Dumervil down, the Broncos defense will struggle insurmountably.  If the Broncos had a elite offense like the Chargers had back in 2008 holding the team together through those struggles, then maybe the Broncos would have a chance.  But as of right now, the Broncos offense isn't elite.  

Who on the Broncos defensive roster will be able to do what Dumervil was able to do? No one.  I don't believe one bit that anyone can do what Dumervil did on that roster.  If you look at the Chargers OLB Shaun Phillips, he couldn't do what Merriman was able to do as a pass rushing OLB and he's pretty good.  

Look for the Broncos to struggle defensively due to the lack of pressure this upcoming season.  The Broncos still have time to fix this but if they continue to run that same "attack" style 3-4 defense, they'll learn the hard way as they'll be leaning on the offense to win games for them which they can't do as of right now.