The Denver Broncos defense played great for the majority of the game vs the Seattle Seahawks. Time and time again, the defense gave the offense multiple opportunities, which the offense failed to take advantage of. All season, the defense has stepped up when called upon. In their first two games, they had some rough games overall, but when called upon, they made the stop.
That was not the case against the Seahawks. They made the stop again and again, until it mattered the most in overtime. They did allow some scoring drives to the Seahawks, but held them to 17 points until 1:13 left in regulation, when the Seahawks defense intercepted a pass to put the offense in great position. Instead of allowing a touchdown off the play, they held them to a field goal.
Defensively, it was the Broncos best game and it came against a versatile offense that is hard to defend. Just how well did they grade out? It’s time we find out. Each player starts off with a C. A positive play can help their grade, while a negative play hurts it. We will start out on the defensive line.
Note: All stats are from PFF. (Subscription required)
Snaps: 44. Stat line: 1 sack, 1 hurry, 2 missed tackles, 1 stop, safety.
DeMarcus Ware has been an upgrade over Shaun Phillips for the Broncos. That doesn’t mean he makes no mistakes, just that his mistakes may not be as often, or as bad. Against the Seahawks, he was quite dominate, except when it came to the run. His grade: B-. Ware has had his troubles in the run show up before this season. Often the case is, he just bursts off the line to fast and before he can recover, they play is passed him.
DE Derek Wolfe
Snaps: 48. Stat line: 3 hurries, 4 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 missed tackle, 1 stop.
Derek Wolfe had another strong game for the second week in a row. He looked really good getting pressure on the QB. However, he showed why he is so important for the run defense. When the Seahawks ran off the side Wolfe was on, the average point of contact was at the line of scrimmage and on average, went for a gain just over 2 yards. His grade: B+. Wolfe isn’t a player to get a whole bunch of sacks, instead he dominates in the run game, but the potential is there as a pass rusher.
Snaps: 37. Stat line: 3 hurries, 1 tackle, 1 stop.
Jackson rebounded from a rough game against the Chiefs, where he was shut down by one blocker consistently. He was a pass rushing force off of the bench that he has been the past couple years. However, his run defense still struggles. Often the Seahawks ran right at him with great effectiveness. His grade: B-. His pass rushing prowess was great, but when facing a team like the Seahawks, you have to step up your run defense as well. That is something Jackson didn’t do.
Snaps: 25. Stat line: 1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle, 1 stop.
Essentially, being in his red-shirt rookie year, it is understandable to see Smith struggle. He is quick off the snap and does an excellent job keeping blockers' hands off of him. However, when the blocker is able to get his hands on Smith, Smith is shut down for the play. His grade: C+. Smith had some great plays, but he also had some awful ones. His biggest weakness, run defense, was on display again and again.
Snaps: 48. Stat line: 3 assisted tackles, 1 missed tackle.
After one of, if not the, best game of his career against the Chiefs, Knighton struggled against the Seahawks. Part of the problem is the constant double teams. The Seahawks doubleed Knighton in the run game and it worked, gaining an average of 6 yards per rush. His grade: B-. Knighton was schemed for by the Seahawks, using the double teams effectively. He was essentially taken out of the game and had a hard time making a big impact.
Snaps: 32. Stat line: 3 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 3 stops.
With Knighton facing constant double teams, Williams needed to step up and become a force on the interior defensive line. He needed too, but never did. Instead, he was shut down by one blocker limiting his impact. His grade: C-. Williams made a few plays, but not many. If teams are going to start constantly double teaming Knighton, Williams has to step up. If he is unable to do that, Williams will start to look like the b-word.
Snaps: 28. Stat line: 2 hurries, 2 tackles, 2 stops.
In less snaps, Austin looked a lot better than Williams. If Austin keeps it up, don’t be surprised if he takes over for Williams. When Austin was on the field the defensive line was stronger. He also, forced them to not double team Knighton as often as they did. His grade: B+. Austin came onto the field and had a great impact, but he also made those around him better.
OLB Von Miller
Snaps: 69. Stat line: 1 sack, 8 hurries, 3 tackles, 4 stops.
Von Miller had his best game of the season. He was always causing some kind of disruption in the passing game and the run game. The Seahawks right tackle was outmatched, which Miller and the Broncos knew and exploited. His grade: A. Miller has had a great season so far. Each game he gets better.
MLB Nate Irving
Snaps: 76. Stat line: 1 hit, 1 hurry, 7 tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 3 missed tackles, 3 stops, 3 targets, 1 catch and 12 yards allowed.
Nate Irving is a great run stopping linebacker, which came in handy against the Seahawks. He was often plugging the hole. In pass coverage, on the other hand, Irving often looks lost and unaware of what his responsibility is. His grade: C+. Irving needs to start showing his flashes in pass coverage more often.
OLB Brandon Marshall
Snaps: 80. Stat line: 1 hit, 11 tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 3 stops, 7 targets, 6 catches, 51 yards, and 1 touchdown allowed.
With Danny Trevathan hurt, Marshall has done a decent job stepping in. However, he does not bring the same intensity or versatility to the defense. Marshall does do a decent job. He is able to snake through blockers to find the ball carrier in the run game, and in pass coverage, he knows what his responsibilities are.
LB Lamin Barrow
Snaps: 11. Stat line: 1 target, 1 catch, 14 yards allowed.
The Broncos have used their backup linebackers rarely this season. When you watch Barrow, you can see why. Coming out of college, he was considered a coverage linebacker. In the NFL however, it’s his coverage that is struggling. However, he does well against the run. His grade: D+. Barrow made a few mistakes, but never countered them with a great play. If he wants more snaps, he is going to have to improve his coverage ability.
OLB Corey Nelson
Snaps: 2. Stat line: 1 hurry.
When a player steps in for just a handful of snaps, it is hard to really hand out a grade. However, when the player comes in and makes a huge impact, it makes it easier. That is the case with Nelson. In his two snaps, he had a hurry. His grade: C+. He flashed his speed, which was his greatest attribute coming out of college.
CB Aqib Talib
Snaps: 77. Stat line: 7 tackles, 1 stop, 8 targets, 6 catches, 99 yards, 1 touchdown allowed, 1 deflected pass.
In Talib's case, stats are misleading. He did allow a touchdown, but he had perfect coverage on the play only to be beaten by an excellent throw. He plays a lot of soft zone coverage, which gives a cushion to receivers, and boosts the stats against him. His grade: B+. Talib has been great playing mostly in zone. His strong suit is taking a man one-on-one and shutting him down. If he were allowed to do that, the stats would look quite different.
CB Chris Harris Jr.
Snaps: 74. Stat line: 1 hurry, 3 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 1 stop, 6 targets, 4 catches, 24 yards allowd, 1 interception.
After missing out on the Super Bowl blowout, Harris had a huge impact against Seattle. His play was excellent and consistent. He did allow four catches, but often came up quick to make the stop. He is still not at 100% from his ACL injury, but when he gets there, beware. His grade: A-. Harris showed awareness to pick off a tipped pass by Talib. It is clear he isn’t at 100%, but even at 75%, Harris is an excellent player.
CB Bradley Roby
Snaps: 60. Stat line: 5 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 2 stops, 3 targets, 3 catches, 29 yards allowed.
In week 2 of the season, Roby had a rough game. Week 3 against Seattle, he rebounded. He was quick to make the tackle when he allowed the catch. On plays he wasn’t the target, he was flying around the field getting involved in the play. His grade: B+. One area that is underrated with Roby, is his run defense. He's always around the ball, and excels at flying downhill.
Snaps: 9. Stat line: 2 tackles.
Webster has been in the doghouse since the preseason. He has lost the #3 CB job and is struggling to even earn more snaps at this point. He is a physical player, and it did show against the Seahawks. His grade: B-. Webster is good in the run game, but it is clear he is still developing, and a ways off, in pass coverage.
SS T.J. Ward
Snaps: 80. Stat line: 1 sack, 1 hurry, 5 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 2 missed tackles, 3 stops, 3 targets, 3 catches, 29 yards allowed.
It is unbelievable that there are people who want Ward to be benched because he isn’t making an impact. If you are wanting a bunch of interceptions from Ward, you will be disappointed. He is a physical hard-hitting safety, which he was able to showcase for the second consecutive week. His grade: B+. Benching Ward is crazy talk. He is always having some kind of impact on the play, and rarely is it a negative impact. He can come up and blitz the QB, or sit in the box like an extra linebacker. He is great for this defense, and is the starter, which is where he should be.
FS Rahim Moore
Snaps: 78. Stat line: 1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle, 2 missed tackles, 2 targets, 1 catch, 17 yards allowed.
Moore is freed up to be a centerfield safety. This allows him to roam and make a play on the ball. Against Seattle, he was able to do this with a solid impact. However, his impact wasn’t as great as it was against the Colts in week 1. His grade: B-. Ever since he had his two interception game, Moore has been struggling a bit and not just because he hasn’t intercepted a pass. In coverage, he takes the wrong angle at times and in the run, he has been getting swallowed up by blockers.
Snaps: 2. Stat line: None.
After having a rough game against the Chiefs, Carter was limited against the Seahawks. In his two snaps he didn’t do anything to have an impact, or anything negative. His grade: C. Part of why he was limited, could do with the scheme as well. If it was for play, it may be hard for him to earn snaps back.
The defense really had a great game against Seattle. They were able to force a safety and got an interception, which the offense only managed to convert into 7 points. When it came to overtime, the defense didn’t play so great. Part of that problem was the play calls. The calls were mostly prevent plays, to keep Seattle from getting the big play, but they were just able to chip away yardage to move down the field and score. The players on the Broncos defense are aggressive players, which means that playing prevent is not using them to the best of their ability.
You can find the Offensive Player Grades Here