Jim Bates knows that the defense he has assembled can succeed. He’s seen it — and not just in a Dove Valley practice against his team’s offense, either.
“On Thursday, we got off the field seven straight times going against (the Dallas Cowboys) on the practice field,” he said, referring to a period of practice in which the teams focused on third-down scenarios. “We were seven-for-seven.”
But when the teams dueled in their preseason game Saturday night, the Broncos’ third-down defensive magic evaporated in the steam room that was Texas Stadium. Dallas converted 10 of its 16 third-down plays, including six of eight when the clubs’ first-teamers grappled in the first half. Dallas averaged 13.5 yards per play, and needed an average of six yards to gain on their first-half third-down plays.
“We get in the game, and they go 10-for-16, with a lot of third-down-and-long situations. That just adds another possession for them,” Bates said.
“We have to eliminate that on third downs. But we have to do a better job on run defense, too. Our run defense has been very porous — as far as being accountable, running the scheme and not letting that run kill us.”
Through two preseason games, the Broncos have allowed 334 rushing yards – an average of 167 peer game.
“The biggest thing is that we just aren’t playing every down and being complete,” Bates said. “We’re still making too many mistakes and giving up too many big plays. We gave up seven plays for huge yardage, and it was something that can be cleaned up, but it’s got to be cleaned up. Bad teams always make excuses that certain plays take you (out of the game), and we have to eliminate the bad plays. But there was a lot of good, too, a lot of positive things, and we’ve just got to keep improving. It’s a new defense, but we have 20 days until our first game and we have to make improvement on a daily basis.”
“We aren’t catching on as fast as we would like. There’s a lot of promising things we see on the tape, there’s a lot of good things happening on the practice field, but in the games, we have not played well, and we just have to get better. … We have to do a better job of coaching as far as getting basic fundamentals taught.”
But as Bates said, it’s better these issues rise now than in three weeks.
“Definitely,” he said. “That’s what preseason’s all about — players getting familiar with each other and being responsible, (handling their) gap responsibilities and eliminating big plays.
“We have plenty of time — if we can just fix these holes. It has to happen on the practice field, and we have to carry it into the games, because we’ve had some excellent practices, but we haven’t performed well, like we expected to in the games.”
What do you think of the defense so far in the preseason? Sound off below …
Tags: Jim Bates