Do they bend? All over the place. Especially late.
But safety Justin Simmons isn’t buying the argument that the Broncos’ defense is already broken by all the weight it’s been carrying this season.
“I wouldn’t say (we’re) tired,” Simmons said in Denver at the UCHealth Training Center in the visit to 3-8 Carolina on Sunday
“I think the goals that we want to have on defense, we really appreciate those opportunities. You are excited about them. You want to think about the multiple times this year that we’ve come into the race in these situations (saving the game), and we have. I mean, we just obviously failed that Sunday, playing the Raiders.”
Consider: The Broncos have gone six games without dropping an explosive play — that is, a run of 20 yards or more — in the final two minutes or overtime of a game. That is, a break in time.
Over four tournaments, they have surrendered five. And in a soul crushing overtime loss in Las Vegas This past Sunday, only four have given up on Theodore Carr.
I don’t want to say (we’re tired), defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said about the fall season. “I’m just not into excuses. I think we’ve had more than enough. And it’s just that we all collectively shut up and be done.”
Entering Week 12, the Broncos are 15th in most opponents’ plays per game (63.0), which is a bit off the all-time tally between 2021 (61.1). Opponents’ possession percentage: 49.67%, 17th good.
Even if you’re not tired, by itself, the Broncos felt short — especially in the pass rush. The trade of outside linebacker Bradley Chubb to Miami earlier this month has some people talking about it. But so do the absences of Randy Gregory and Baron Browning.
Per Pro-Football-Reference.com, the Broncos are averaging 2.9 sacks and six hits per game in the first eight games and are among the NFL’s best units in pressure percentage and sack percentage.
Are the last two similar? Other stories. Over the previous fortnight, the Broncos ranked No. 16 in the NFL in pressure percentage (22.7% of drops) and even third in blitz rate (35.6%), as Evero felt compelled to create different means of harassing opposing quarterbacks.
“The statistics are great, but he’s got to be able to do it week in and week out,” Simmons said. “It’s one thing to talk about stats – whatever yours is. But you have to do it consistently week-in and week-out. So we fell a little short (against the Raiders). So we need to answer the bell again.”
But the eye of the witness does not lie. The Broncos trailed 25-22 in the final two minutes of the half. And he’s been outscored 12-0 in three overtimes this season.
“Being a football player, it’s hard to do,” Simmons said. “It requires guys to be locked in all the time. And that in itself is hard. It requires a lot of free play. That’s hard, and it’s hard, why can’t everyone do it. Teams that can do it more times than not just teams that can find ways not only to win, but they keep constantly. That’s why it’s always so hard to find that formula.
They still have ten games to go on the Broncos. Still searching.