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Friday, October 2, 2009
Numbers don't lie: Nolan's doing a great job

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com



Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

The Denver Broncos have a surprise 3-0 record and much of their early success can be attributed to the defense. Denver has allowed an NFL-low 16 points. This is remarkable considering Denver was one of the worst defenses in the NFL the past two seasons.

Compare the 16 points allowed this season to the 112 points allowed in the final three games of the Mike Shanahan era, where Bob Slowik was the defensive coordinator.

ESPN Stats & Information came up with some very telling numbers that illustrate just how strong of an impact new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has had on Denver’s defense.

The Broncos are stopping the run, which is Nolan’s specialty. Last season Denver allowed more than five yards per carry. Here are the yards-per-carry averages against Nolan’s defenses the past four seasons:

2009: 3.3

2008: 3.8

2007: 3.8

2006: 4.1



The Broncos have relied on pressure packages with several pass-rushers. Here are some numbers showing their success with large numbers of pass-rushers.
Passing offense vs Broncos' increased pressure
Opponent Plays with 5+ rushers Yards allowed
Bengals. 17 70
Browns 16 76
Raiders 16 -4

Nolan’s success against the run and with in passing situations has resulted in few points for the opponents, of course. The most points Denver has allowed in any game so for is 7. Below is a look how many games Denver has held opponents to single digits in recent seasons:

2009: 3

2008: 0

2007: 1

2006: 5