The Denver Broncos visit to take on the Kansas City Chiefs was a defensive battle. Denver's defense allowed a couple of big plays throughout the game. Early on, the Broncos defense looked like a mess, especially in two of their first three drives.
Both of those drives saw a complete breakdown of discipline. They're lucky that one of them ended in a fumble that Denver recovered. The Broncos eventually settled down individually and as a unit and played a strong game.
With that said, time to jump into the player grades. As always we will begin with the starters on the defense, then go into the players who subbed into the game.
Vance Walker, LDE
Snaps: 29. Stats: 1 QB hurry.
The defensive end has been the starter with Derek Wolfe suspended, and has helped to lessen the blow. However, Walker has been largely inconsistent, especially against the Chiefs. He was able to get a pressure on the quarterback, but was shut down every other snap. When defending the run, Walker looked better, but still inconsistent. He was facing his former team, and I doubt his play made them regret letting him go.
Snaps: 32. Stats: 1 QB hurry, 2 tackles, 2 stops.
Williams has really shown why the Broncos were right to show confidence in him. He fits the scheme perfectly, and it shows, as he consistently was able to shoot the gap. Sometimes he chose the right gap and was able to make the play. Other times he didn’t but still managed to cause discomfort for the ball carrier. The only time Williams doesn’t look good is when he doesn’t attack a single gap, and that doesn’t happen often.
Malik Jackson, RDE
Snaps: 51. Stats: 1 sack, 1 QB hurry, 2 tackles, 3 stops.
Jackson played a strong game in both phases. However, his grade will be affected by a stupid personal foul against him. He is good for one of these about once every three games. Besides that play, everything from Jackson was positive to some degree. He was constantly causing havoc for the Chiefs offense, and gave the offensive line trouble.
Von Miller, LOLB
Snaps: 50. Stats: 1 sack, 5 QB hurries, 3 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 2 stops.
Similarly to Jackson, Miller will have his grade hurt by a couple of bad penalties. Normally penalties don’t count, but it depends on whether the penalty was from a lack of discipline or not, which Miller's were. Also, like Jackson, Miller was a dominant force, besides the penalty. He was living in the Chiefs backfield when rushing the passer. With his six total pressures, and multiple other rushes that were close to pressures, Alex Smith had little-to-no time. Against the run, Miller was just as stout. The only thing keeping his grade from perfect were those penalties.
Brandon Marshall, LILB
Snaps: 60. Stats: 2 tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 1 missed tackle, 2 stops. targeted 3 times, allowing 2 catches for 39 yards.
Defending the run, Marshall was excellent—as always. However, he had a lot of issues when dropping into coverage. He allowed a big play when he started to cover the wrong assignment, which opened up his guy for a huge gain. For a player who claimed to be the best coverage linebacker in the NFL, this game didn’t back his statement.
Danny Trevathan, RILB
Snaps: 38. Stats: 7 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 2 missed tackles, 4 stops, targeted 3 times, allowing 2 catches for 2 yards.
Trevathan’s play has been underrated by those watching. He has been quietly huge for this defense. He has looked a bit rusty, especially with tackling. He looked excellent against the Chiefs, both defending the run and in coverage. On his 38 snaps, he had a positive impact on 33 snaps, and total impact on 36-of-38 snaps. His 33 impact snaps are the highest on the defense and his 3 negative impact snaps represent the lowest percentage on the defense.
DeMarcus Ware, ROLB
Snaps: 47. Stats: 1 sack, 3 QB hits, 3 tackles, 2 stops, targeted once, allowing 1 catch for 12 yards.
The veteran had a rough game from start to finish. He drew a flag for an undisciplined play. He also lacked lane discipline when defending the run and bit on the play-action, one of which went for a touchdown right through Ware’s lane. He was able to get a few pressures, but lacked any kind of consistency in doing so.
Aqib Talib, LCB
Snaps: 63. Stats: 1 tackle, 1 assisted tackle, targeted 5 times, allowing 1 catch for 7 yards and 1 interception
A huge game from the veteran. He was a shutdown corner, who forced Alex Smith to throw away from him. Talib jumped a route, after reading Smith’s body, to make the interception. It resulted in a seven-point swing for the Broncos. Talib was not just stout in coverage, but in all phases and put together an excellent game.
T.J. Ward, SS
Snaps: 53. Stats: 1 QB hurry, 3 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 missed tackle, 1 stop, targeted 4 times, allowing 2 catches for 36 yards.
In his first game back, Ward played an excellent game against the run, and had his usual struggles in coverage. He flies around the field against the run, wreaking havoc everywhere he goes. He blew up a run play multiple times. His coverage is not his strong suit, but isn’t completely awful.
Darian Stewart, FS
Snaps: 60. Stats: 1 QB hurry, 4 tackles, 4 missed tackles, 1 stop, targeted twice, allowing 1 catch for negative 1 yard, 1 fumble recovered.
Stewart had a great game against his former team, but struggled against the Chiefs, mainly with completing the tackle. He did play really well in coverage and was quick to where the play was. He just struggled to finish the play. He played the run incredibly well, but ended up biting on play-action, leaving some of the field open.
Chris Harris, Jr., RCB
Snaps: 64. Stats: 4 tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 stop, targeted 5 times, allowing 4 catches for 58 yards and 1 interception.
Harris had a rough game in coverage, and was consistently giving space to his assignment. He was quick to make the tackle, which limited the damage done. However, he needs to play more on his man, otherwise he will keep getting picked on. He did keep up his excellence when coming up to defend the run to make the tackle. Both of those are things Harris has always done at a high level, but it seems he has taken it to an even higher level.
That wraps up the starters. Time to get into the players who subbed into the game.
Antonio Smith, DE
Snaps: 37. Stats: 1 sack, 3 QB hurries, 2 tackles, 3 stops.
Known as a not-so-good run defender, Smith has actually looked good in that aspect in both games so far this season. He did play better when rushing the passer than he did Week 1. He is quick and agile, which he has used to consistently make an impact.
Darius Kilgo, NT
Snaps: 13. Stats: 1 QB hurry, 2 tackles, 1 stop.
Kilgo only played a few snaps, but he had a positive impact on 6 of those snaps and a negative impact on just 3 of them. In limited snap counts though, that negative snap count number has to be even lower. He is quick to jump the gap, but often reads the play wrong, jumping the wrong one. This led to a big run by the Chiefs. When rushing the passer, he needs to get off the snap a bit quicker.
Shane Ray, OLB
Snaps: 17. Stats: 1 assisted tackle.
The first round pick had a bad game. He had a negative impact on 13 of his 17 snaps. On one of those, he completely froze on a run play. He only froze for about half a second, but with Jamaal Charles, that's all that is needed. Ray struggled to get any kind of pressure and just generally looked outmatched all game.
Shaquil Barrett, OLB
Snaps: 14. Stats: 2 tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 1 stop.
Barrett was generally shut down as a pass rusher, but he excelled as a run defender. He did a great job at setting the edge multiple times, and found himself in a position to help make the play. He also was able to read the play early in it's development, and use that to get into great position. His worst play came on a big touchdown run, which was the same run Ray froze on.
Bradley Roby, CB
Snaps: 34. Stats: 1 tackles, 1 stop, 1 fumble recovered for a touchdown.
Roby had the play of the game—by far. He was able to pick up a fumble and return it for a touchdown, which gave Denver the lead with little time left. Outside of that play, he was good, but not great. His coverage was strong, but he got lucky with some pressure from the pass rushers where his position couldn’t be exploited. He also was swallowed up as a run defender multiple times.
David Bruton, S
Snaps: 34. Stats: 1 sack, 3 tackles, 1 missed tackle, 2 stops, targeted 3 times, allowing 2 catches for 38 yards.
Defending the run, Bruton played a really great game. However, he looked lost in coverage and got beat a few times, two of which were caught, and one for a big gain. Unlike some others in the secondary, Bruton wasn’t quick to make the tackle, which is shown by the 28 yards after the catch he allowed. He did force a fumble on the first drive, which saved the defense from a really bad showing to start the game.
Josh Bush, S
Snaps: 6: Stats: N/A.
Bush played just 6 snaps on defense, none of which are worth noting. However, he is lucky special teams play doesn’t count towards your defensive grade, otherwise he would have a 0.0 grade. He had the boneheaded play of the game on a punt, where Denver was the returning team. The ball hit the ground, and Bush went to get it, when it was surrounded by Chiefs players. Had that ball bounced wrong and touched him, the Chiefs easily could have scooped it up for the score. You can bet that Bush was chewed out by the special teams coordinator.
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