Broncos Looking To Tighten Up Run Defense

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

John Lynch won't even attempt to use the "it's a new system" spiel any longer.

The season has started and either the Broncos have a grasp of defensive boss Jim Bates' schemes or they don't.

So far, they don't - at least in the run department. Denver is giving up 156 yards a game, which is 27th in the league.

"We've all been saying it - it's new, it's new, it's new - but here we are. It's reality," Lynch said. "We need to tighten up the details."

Bates doesn't think it's time to panic. Even though LaMont Jordan rushed for 159 yards against Denver on Sunday, he's convinced the team just needs to improve on the little things -- like staying in assigned gaps on running plays.

"We've got blistered a couple times," Bates said. "We feel like we can get it solved."

The Broncos host a Jacksonville team Sunday that's known for its running game, but hasn't gotten on track this season. The Jaguars are averaging just 94 yards a game despite having an explosive tandem in Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew.

"One thing we don't want to do is get Jacksonville's running game going because they definitely have two good backs," Champ Bailey said.

Lynch expects a steady dose of Taylor and Jones-Drew.

"I think they're going to try and establish it and take shots up top," Lynch said.

Taking shots up top on Denver hasn't been easy. The pass defense has been stellar. Denver is giving up just 62.5 yards passing a game, which is tops in the league.

Buffalo's J.P. Losman and Oakland's Josh McCown threw for a combined 170 yards and four interceptions in the first two weeks.

"Their pass defense is pretty darn good," Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio said. "You are talking about one of the top defenses in the league."

Once the Broncos get their run defense in order, that is.

"It's a work in progress, but we've got to get that work up to our standard in a hurry," Lynch said. "We're working toward that."

In an effort to keep defensive linemen fresh, the Broncos have been constantly rotating players in and out. It may take time for the line to mesh together.

"I've never been involved with something like that," Lynch said. "But I think to keep everyone involved is great and it does speak to the depth. We wouldn't be doing it if we didn't feel like everyone could contribute."

For now, Simeon Rice is all right with rotating in and out. But once his shoulder completely heals, he wants to play more. He's had three tackles and a deflected pass playing in a limited capacity.

"This is not my style," said Rice, who started eight games for Tampa Bay last season before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. "It's throwing me off. But things will work itself out. I'll get up in there and start really shining and doing my thing. ... You're going to see some outrageous business on the field."

Lynch can't wait to see that. They were teammates in Tampa Bay, and Lynch knows how much of an impact a healthy Rice can have.

"He wreaks havoc all over the field," Lynch said. "For whatever reason, he's had a knock against him his whole career that he doesn't play the run well, but I know that our Super Bowl year, when we became No. 1 in every category on defense -- including run defense -- he was a huge part of that. He's a tremendous player."

As for Denver's problems against the run, Lynch isn't the least bit concerned.

"I've been on defenses where you're just getting run through," Lynch said. "You aren't making tackles and people are overpowering you. That's not the case with us. We just need to tighten it up."


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