Even though the Denver Broncos’ defense tied for the league lead in sacks, finished second overall in fewest yards allowed and fourth overall in fewest points allowed last season, their inability to handle tight ends is something they should be extremely cautious about as they head towards a month with three NFC East teams on their schedule, which means an even greater focus on their weakness.
Opposing tight ends had 81 catches for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns against the Broncos, which means it was like they faced Rob Gronkowski or Jason Witten each week considering how many yards and TDs they allowed. Three of the six 100-yard receiving game against the Broncos were by tight ends – Jermaine Gresham (Bengals, 108 yards), Greg Olsen (Panthers, 102 yards, 2 TDs) and Dennis Pitta (Ravens, 125 yards, 2 TDs). The Broncos won all those games, but obviously there’s a problem.
Tight ends caught 25% of the receiving yards against the Brocnos last season, and 44% of the receiving touchdowns. In the NFL, 19 of the top 20 receivers in yards are wide receivers, it shows that teams know the Broncos have a hard time playing against tight ends.
John Fox and Jack Del Rio know the Broncos have a problem in that area of matchups, but are confident enough about fixing that issue, not to mention having a good enough team to overcome something like that.
It’s a match-up league, it always has been, it always will be. Every team is looking for those match-ups to take advantage of. We always look at things we maybe haven’t done as well as we can because we don’t want bad things to happen again. The thing about mistakes is you admit them, fix them and try not to repeat them.
The New York Giants with Brandon Myers are next. The Broncos know Myers very well from his Oakland days and have dealt quite well with him in the past, but he has Eli Manning throwing to him now. The Giants did lose in week 1, but had three receivers with over 100 yards, while Myers caught 7 passes for 66 yards.
Having to face Brian Celek and Jason Witten next doesn’t inspire too much optimism regarding their chances of stopping this trend of productive tight ends. On the other hand, the Broncos are simply better than the NFC East opponents they’re looking forward to meet.