The Denver Broncos have led the National Football League in passing defense for each of the last two seasons. Despite their success, coach Vance Joseph and defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who are both in their first seasons in their respective roles, decided to make a major change to Denver’s defensive scheme.
Under former defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, now of the Los Angeles Rams, the Broncos ran almost exclusively man-to-man coverage. Under Woods, Denver has shifted more toward a scheme that features a blend of man and zone coverages.
Joseph’s reasoning behind the schematic change is simple. He wants to keep the team’s “No Fly Zone” secondary fresh and healthy.
“It’s a physical reason; it’s also a scheme reason,’’ Joseph said in an exclusive interview with Mike Klis of 9News Denver last week. “If you’re all man, you’ll get all man beaters as far as a pass contest. If you’re a mix of man and zone, then they’re guessing. So to help our players, we thought we have to play more zone. And be good at it. To play more zone coverage you need more focus on details.
“This team has been a man-to-man team primarily in the past. That’s an easy job as far as assignments. It’s hard job as far as physical ability. But we want to give our guys a break from time to time and play more zone.
“The issues we’re having now are going to make us a better football team if we can play zone from time to time to give our guys a break. I think the issue we’re having now is, we’re transforming from being a total man team to being a split team, man and zone. That’s been the issue, and we’ll get better at it.’’
The Broncos had their bye in Week 5, and will continue their season during a Week 6 matchup with the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.