Star outside linebacker Von Miller’s suspended for the first six games of the season, and defensive ends Derek Wolfe and Robert Ayers are out at the moment with injuries.
But the Broncos are trying to put a brave face on, as they try to come up with some degree of pressure by committee. The best bet is 10th-year defensive end/linebacker Shaun Phillips, who has 69.5 sacks.
“I’ve been in the league 10 years,” Phillips said, via Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. “If I’ve got pressure now, something’s wrong.”
Actually, the pressure is real. The Broncos didn’t pursue more expensive free agent pass-rushers, settling for Phillips.
When they had Miller and the pre-fax Elvis Dumervil, that would have probably been sufficient.
Now, they’re searching for help, but Phillips downplayed the absences and how they changed his role.
“Whether I’m playing defensive end, linebacker, it really doesn’t matter,” Phillips said. “Football is football, and at the end of the day you tackle the guy with the ball. We’ll be OK. It’s not just about the sacks. It’s about the coverage, and it’s about the sacks. It’s about stopping the run, because we all know that you can’t get sacks without stopping the run.
“Right now, our philosophy is stopping the run and the sacks are going to come; we’ve got guys who can get after it a little bit. Unfortunately, we lose our best pass rusher for a couple of games [actually six], but it is what it is. You have hiccups in life, but you bounce back from them.”
The Broncos are going to have to make adjustments beyond personnel to cover this one. That’s going to put more of a burden on their secondary to cover, and on defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to adjust his plan on the fly.