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Broncos try to avoid sack time

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Dec 27, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/nfl/article/0,2777,DRMN_23918_4344045,00.html" trget="_blank">Rocky Mountain News</a>

    By Jeff Legwood

    <img src="http://bolttalk.com/images/chargersvbroncos01.jpg" class="left" alt="Jamal Williams sacks Jake Plummer" />They are the rumble in the distance, the clouds on the playoff horizon.

    They are the AFC hopefuls. And most of them have been among the league's best at sacking opposing quarterbacks this season. The Broncos will get a little preview of their postseason Saturday.

    "The guys up front have done an awesome job all year," Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said. "We know people are going to come after you. That's just how it is."

    Eight teams in the league have at least 40 sacks this season, with five of those residing in the AFC. And if the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Detroit Lions on Sunday and get themselves into the postseason, three of those teams will be in the AFC's playoff bracket.

    The Broncos will get their first look Saturday at San Diego. The Chargers (9-6) aren't going to the playoffs, but with 44 sacks, they are fifth in the league.

    The Chargers have attacked quarterbacks from all points in Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense. Rookie outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who was named to the Pro Bowl this past week, leads the team with nine sacks, but San Diego has eight players with at least two sacks and 16 players with at least one.

    Merriman, who carries the nickname "Light's Out," is the player who ended Chiefs running back Priest Holmes' season with a tackle earlier this year.

    "We're a team with speed," Merriman said. "We come around the edge and we get a lot of pressure on the quarterback."

    And limiting pressure on Plummer, while always difficult to muster in a Broncos offense that often keeps him on the move, probably will be a big part of any postseason success for the Broncos.

    The Oakland Raiders sacked Plummer two times - one by defensive end Derrick Burgess and one by defensive tackle Ed Jasper. But Burgess' consistent pressure from the defensive left against right tackle George Foster was difficult for the Broncos to deal with for much of the day.

    "(Burgess) made us look inept at times," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. " . . . I think George found out how good some of those pass rushers are sometimes. It's a learning experience; we'll get better."

    They will have to. While most teams put their best pass rusher on the defensive right to rush the left side of the offensive formation, the Broncos have the potential to face several teams in the AFC's postseason, as well as the Chargers, who muster big-time pressure from both sides.

    The Colts have speed at both end spots - Robert Mathis (11 1/2 sacks) and Dwight Freeney (10 1/2) - on passing downs, while the Jacksonville Jaguars also have two ends with at least 7 1/2 sacks this season in Paul Spicer and former Bronco Reggie Hayward.

    And the Steelers, who also play a 3-4, have two outside linebackers - former Colorado State athletes Clark Haggans and Joey Porter - with at least nine sacks each.

    "We look on film, you can see how defenses are coming after the quarterback," Plummer said. "I have to know where the pressure is coming from, where to go with the ball and keep us out of bad situations.

    "The way we run the ball can slow down the rush sometimes. It all goes together. You don't want to just stand back there and let people take a run at you."

    Plummer, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last spring, has received treatment on the knee throughout the season. He had said before the season he might have to run less this year because of that, but it hasn't worked out that way.

    Plummer has 46 carries through 15 games, which already is just above his average (43.25) over the previous eight years of his career.

    "You go when the opportunity is there," said Plummer, who was limping some after Saturday's game against the Raiders and was sporting a cut on his left shin. "I've stuck to my routine with (Broncos head trainer Steve Antonopulos) all year and I feel good. Right now all I'm worried about is about getting through the last game, doing good things and going deep in the playoffs.

    "We're not going to feel like we've accomplished anything until we do that. We like the way we're playing right now, but we know we're not done working."

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