Denver Broncos Week 16 Player Grades: Defense

The Broncos defense started out rough against the Bengals, but they managed to recover and play a big role in getting the win. Just how well did they do at an individual level? Once again, MHH Analyst Erick Trickel is back with his player grades.

Derek Wolfe, DE

Snaps: 56. Stats: 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 1 hurry, 3 tackles.

Wolfe was technically sound and disciplined all game long, no matter what his assignment was. He was getting pretty consistent pressure on the quarterback throughout, even though his pressure count is low. As for his run defense, outside of one run, it was stellar.

Grade: 96.8

Sylvester Williams, NT

Snaps: 44. Stats: 1 missed tackle, 1 tackle.

On the first play of the game, Williams was brilliant, until he missed the tackle. He got outside of his blocker, cut through the gap, then benched the linemen off him. All Williams had to do was make the tackle and it sets a tone. Despite that, he still played a solid game. They picked on him early in the game with the run, but he recovered and ended up being controlling in the middle.

Grade: 79.5

Malik Jackson, DE

Snaps: 58. Stats: 2 hurries, 3 tackles.

Even though he didn’t fill the stat sheet, Jackson was disruptive all game, especially rushing the passer. His run defense was solid, but he got controlled a lot, or made mental errors opening running lanes. When rushing the passer, he was rarely able to apply pressure, but he did get his hands up to help clog the throwing lanes, which is something you don’t always see from defensive linemen. All in all, it was a solid game.

Grade: 74.8

Von Miller, OLB

Snaps: 52. Stats: 1 QB hit, 3 tackles.

People talk of Miller being invisible, and for the first time this season, that was actually accurate. He wasn’t applying pressure on the Bengals quarterback and looked far below average when defending the run. There were a few bright spots, one of which actually came in coverage, but they were so few. Just really a down game for Miller, and a lot had to do with the design of the Bengals offense to block him.

Grade: 36.4

Danny Trevathan, ILB

Snaps: 60. Stats: 12 tackles, targeted 3 times, allowing 2 catches for 14 yards.

It was an excellent game from Trevathan. He was all over the field, and showed just how great he is against the run. He can sift through the garbage to get to the ball carrier, blow up blockers, or execute perfect stack and sheds. He has a nose for the ball against the run, and is has shown all season. As for his pass coverage, he actually looked great for the first time all season. He allowed a couple of catches, but mostly took his assignments out of the play with tight coverage.

Grade: 98.4

Brandon Marshall, ILB

Snaps: 54. Stats: 1 missed tackle, 7 tackles, targeted 3 times, allowing 3 catches for 16 yards.

It was a good game from Marshall, but not quite as good as Trevathan's. His run defense was really good, especially when he was able to avoid blockers and sift through to find the ball carrier. When he gets engaged, he isn’t as good as Trevathan at disengaging in order to make the play. His coverage was solid, but there were a few times pressure on the quarterback saved him.

Grade: 81.3

DeMarcus Ware,OLB

Snaps: 42. Stats: 2 hurries 3 tackles

In his second start since coming back from injury, Ware played a decent game. The coaching staff still held him back some, which was noticeable. Ware didn’t go full speed all the time, and seemed to be cautious with his bends. As he hurt his back, and is still recovering from it, that explains why. Looking forward to the final game as the reigns will be taken off.

Grade: 76.3

Aqib Talib, CB

Snaps: 72. Stats: 2 tackles, targeted 6 times, allowing 4 catches for 42 yards and 1 touchdown.

To start the game, it lookexd like the “No Fly Zone” was going to be the “Pass All Over Us” zone like they were against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was an awful start for Talib, but he managed to recover pretty well. He saw some matchups against A.J. Green, who is so hard to defend against.

Grade: 61.9

T.J. Ward, SS

Snaps: 34. Stats: 1 missed tackle, 1 tackle.

It was his first game back, and the rust was obvious and explains the not-so-good performance. He just wasn’t the force against the run that he usually is. It's a good bet he was still bothered by his injury, and the rust was there, but unfortunately, he played and it wasn’t good, which reflects in his grade.

Grade: 39.4

Darian Stewart, FS

Snaps: 45. Stats: 1 missed tackle, 1 tackle, 1targeted 1 time, allowing 1 catch for 6 yards.

Another safety who returned to the starting lineup. Stewart was in and out of the game, and like Ward, the rust was obvious in his play. Neither safety were up to par, and clearly still bothered by injury.

Grade: 37.6

Chris Harris, Jr., CB

Snaps: 72. Stats: 5 tackles, 1 stop, targeted 8 times, allowing 5 catches for 40 yards.

As with Talib, Harris was getting beat early in the game, and it was starting to look really bad. Then it all changed at halftime. In the second half, Harris was able to slow Green down, somewhat, and made a couple of big pass breakups. He turned it around in an even bigger way than Talib.

Grade: 74.1

That wraps up the starters. Now time for those who subbed into the game and saw ten or more snaps.

Vance Walker, DE

Snaps: 24. Stats: 1 sack, 1 hurry, 5 tackles.

When getting after the passer, it was a good game from Walker. He was able to generate pretty consistent push. However, when asked to defend the run, the opposing offensive line was generating consistent push on Walker.

Grade: 74.8

Antonio Smith, DE

Snaps: 16. Stats: N/A.

I actually had to go through the game a ninth time just to focus on Smith. In the first eight times watching over the game, he did nothing noteworthy. It actually made me doubt that he actually played. Even with focusing on him, I came away with nothing. He was on the field and took up space, that was about the extent of what he did.

Grade: 50.0

Shane Ray, OLB

Snaps: 28. Stats: 1 hurry, 1 tackle.

The rookie first rounder looked good against the Bengals, despite not filling up the stat sheet. He actually looked better against the run than rushing the passer. His run defense was a consistent knock on him pre-draft, and it shows how well he has taken to NFL coaching to progress in an area he knew wasn’t strong. As for rushing the passer, he was inconsistent, but got a hurry and a couple of near hurries.

Grade: 81.0

Shaquil Barrett, OLB

Snaps: 22. Stats: 2 tackles.

Barrett didn’t have a good game. His pass rush fell flat, and barely got any push. However, he was the second best run defending outside linebacker for the team, but that is more on how badly the others did than how good he did.

Grade: 42.1

Bradley Roby, CB

Snaps: 50. Stats: 2 missed tackles, 4 tackles, targeted 5 times, allowing 3 catches for 21 yards.

It was a good game from Roby, except when he was asked to tackle someone. Normally, Roby is fundamentally sound making tackles, but that has disappeared over the last two games. He has become a careless wreck, which has led to far too many missed tackles. It's time for the coaches to get him back on track. Everything else Roby did was really good, but the tackling issues really hurt him. It wasn’t pretty even on tackles he made.

Grade: 39.1

Josh Bush, S

Snaps: 50. Stats: 1 missed tackle, 1 tackle, targeted 1 time, allowing 1 catch for 15 yards.

With Stewart and Ward in and out of the game, and Bruton done, Bush saw an increased rolel. Well, except when he had to start because of injury. He played great as the starter, and kept it up as the third safety. Actually, he is probably getting better as time goes on as he re-learns the playbook and concepts.

Grade: 85.7

Shiloh Keo, S

Snaps: 11. Stats: 3 tackles, targeted 4 times, allowing 3 catches for 47 yards.

There is no other way to put it than Keo was awful this game. When he came onto the field, the change in the defense was obvious. It also was obvious that the Bengals knew how to exploit him, as they kept going to whatever side of the field Keo was on. Keo spent time on the Bengals roster earlier in 2015.

Grade: 29.8

There were three players who saw less than ten snaps. They are: ILB Todd Davis with eight snaps, ILB Corey Nelson with four snaps, and CB Kayvon Webster with one snap. The only one to make any plays was Nelson, who had two tackles and one stop in the short reps he had filling in for Marshall.

Happy New Year, everyone!

To get instant Broncos notifications, download the NEW Scout mobile app for iOS HERE! 

Be sure to check out the ever-growing benefit package of being a Mile High Huddle Insider! Check it out HERE.

Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

Follow MileHighHuddle on Twitter @MileHighHuddle and become a subscriber to receive access to premium content and discounted Broncos tickets and merchandise.


Mile High Huddle Top Stories