When the Denver Broncos are firing on all six cylinders on defense, it's usually the result of a couple of factors; a relentless pass rush up front and blankent coverage down the field.
With DeMarcus Ware back in full force to complement Von Miller and a persistent group of edge linebackers, combined with the potential return of Derek Wolfe in Week 12, all of the elements are back in place and primed to bring the heat on a consistent basis. And now, for the first time in a long time, Denver's secondary is also returning to full strength, ready to glue themselves to every wide receiver that crosses the line of scrimmage.
It might seem from 30,000 feet that the Broncos' depth in the secondary is enough to sustain them in times of injury, and it is, for the most part. But the No-Fly Zone is never more powerful than when they have all of their chess pieces ready to be maneuvered at will.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1719434-get-si-subscription-with-premium-membership Aqib Talib, who will return for the Broncos' Sunday night home affair with the Kansas City Chiefs does his best work against tall, lanky receivers that might otherwise box out more diminutive cornerbacks. Broncos fans saw how stark the contrast is firsthand; Talib held six-foot-three Demaryius Thomas to four catches for 41 yards in 2013 as a member of the New England Patriots. A year later, after Talib had moved on to the Broncos in free agency, five-foot-nine T.Y. Hilton got loose for 18 yards-per-reception against Talib.
The matchups are important. When the Broncos have their full secondary at their disposal, it allows them to use the matchups to their advantage. If they don't, anything goes.
Talib and Chris Harris have earned the first and third cornerback rankings, respectively, from Pro Football Focus this season. A lot of that has to do with the fact that they've been put in situations that play to their strengths. Even when Talib was out with his back injury, it was Bradley Roby that assumed most of his responsibility, allowing Harris to kick inside in nickel situations, where's he's proven to be most comfortable.
With the full group of corners back on the field, it will allow the Broncos to use their deadliest packages in coverage. In a base defense (expect plenty of this against the run-heavy Chiefs), the Broncos will use Harris and Talib on each side manned up against the outside receivers.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1730621-broncos-waive-taurean-nix... When the Broncos play teams like the Patriots, they will have to rely on the nickel defense more often when they're faced with three wide receivers or flex tight ends. That means the Broncos will kick Harris in to the slot to cover someone like Julian Edelman. Meanwhile, Denver has the luxury of tagging in a cover corner like Roby, allowing Talib to either line up against the outside receiver or Rob Gronkowski.
Throw in another wide receiver to the mix and the Broncos can match it with Kayvon Webster and Lorenzo Doss. Few teams, have the depth at wide receiver to to challenge Denver's depth on the other side.
Denver can survive without full reinforcements in the secondary. They were able to (for the most part) hold their own against the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and the New Orleans Saints. But when all their options are on the table, the defense flourishes. And there's no better time for that than the NFL's post-Thanksgiving run to the playoffs.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.