ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos want 20-20 vision in the pass rush Thursday night.
“That’s a big concern of him being able to scramble with the football and make plays, too," Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “Those guys that can scramble can give you problems because you’ve got four guys rushing, basically, and there’s still more gaps than there are players rushing. Those kinds of quarterbacks can sneak out of there on you, so you have to be real alert."
Because the Broncos do plenty of man coverages in the secondary -- “I don’t think anybody will play more man than us,’’ is how cornerback Chris Harris Jr. put it -- that often means the players in the secondary have their backs turned to the quarterback as they match up on receivers down the field.
That means if the quarterback escapes, there is often some room to run before help arrives. In last season’s Week 2 matchup Smith scrambled for a 10-yard gain the first time he dropped back to pass and then had a 25-yard scramble to convert a third-and-4 during a Chiefs’ second-quarter touchdown drive.
Phillips said that means DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller and other Broncos defenders have to keep Smith in sight even as they battle the blockers in front of them. The Broncos will also adhere to the age-old adage in chasing mobile passers that a rusher should never get deeper in the backfield than the quarterback in order to prevent the step-up and escape.
“As you rush, you have to be able to see the quarterback," Phillips said. “That’s the good thing about Von and DeMarcus both is they don’t have to just watch the guy they’re rushing. They look at the quarterback as they go. That’s why when the quarterback ducks under sometimes, you see them make sacks where another guy’s still running around."
“You don’t want to leave the gaps for him to get out," Ware said.
“If you’re playing a lot of man coverage and those guys get out, it’s obviously a factor," Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said. “We were worried about it last week too with Joe [Flacco] and his ability to run. He doesn’t run as much as Alex does, but he has the ability to do that ... There are a lot of challenges."