CAN THE BRONCOS’ RUN DEFENSE BOUNCE BACK?
After giving up 229 rushing yards in the second half to the Jaguars and getting doubled up in the time of possession battle, the Broncos will face another test against a team with a pair of dangerous running backs.
Former Pro Bowler Melvin Gordon could play for the first time this season, but Austin Ekeler is also dangerous.
“He makes all his plays in the screen game,” Chris Harris Jr. said. “I would say the screen game and running the wheel routes and he breaks a lot of tackles. … Last week we didn’t tackle well at all, so this week we have to be great tacklers on that guy for sure.”
If the Broncos aren’t able to bring down Ekeler — who has scored three touchdowns apiece on the ground and through the air — they’ll be at risk of allowing more big plays. Against Jacksonville, those were the plays that cost Denver the game.
More than anything, the Broncos’ ability to succeed against the run comes down to physicality and effort. Both Fangio and his players emphasized that during the week.
“We just have to play more physical and be able to hang in there on the blocks better, tackle better and just play better. I’m not going to make up an answer for you,” Fangio said. “… You just have to move it around, pick your spots and hopefully when you are loading up on the run, your secondary can hold together and not give up the big plays in the passing game and vice versa. When you’re trying to help the secondary with coverages and they decide to run it again somewhat of a lighter box, we can hang in there. That’s what good teams do.”
Added Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell: “Catastrophic is a strong word, but what I would say is we can never accept some think as flukey. You have to address it. You have to make sure that something doesn’t happen. When people see things, they’re going to check it out and see if you fixed it. That’s where we are right now.”