It was a disappointing 2016 for the Denver Broncos when it came to stopping the run. Defensive end Jared Crick looks to change that this season.
When you look at the final defensive rankings for 2016, the Denver Broncos once again finished among the leaders in fewest yards per game allowed. Only the Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings finished higher than the then-defending Super Bowl champions.
Of course, a closer look shows that all was not well with this unit. You see, only four teams in the league gave up more rushing yards per game. Teams gouged the Broncos for 130.3 yards per game on the ground.
To solve that issue, John Elway added stout defensive linemen Domata Peko and Zach Kerr via free agency. Meanwhile, defensive end Jared Crick did some addition on his own, as did line mates Derek Wolfe and Adam Gostis. As he explained to Jeff Legwold of ESPN, the goal was to pack on some extra pounds to make life harder on those opposing offensive lines.
“(I) just ate a lot more,” explained Crick to Legwold. “Obviously, I ate the same things, ate healthy, but instead of trying to eat four times a day, turning it into six or seven times a day. Just smaller portions, but more times…There’s no real secret as far as training-wise. You just have to train hard and eat right, and eat a lot.”
In a division in which the Denver defense will get a steady diet of Marshawn Lynch, Melvin Gordon and Spencer Ware, it’s necessary that Vance Joseph’s club gets better in this area this summer in preparation for 2017. You can sense that lowly ranking in terms of run defense is something that sticks in the crawl of this player. Via Pro Football Focus, New York Giants’ defensive tackle Damon Harrison is ranked as the NFL’s top run stopper among interior defenders with a grade of 88.9. Crick’ number sits at 41.6 in the same department.
“You can’t point your fingers at one position or one guy or anything like that,” added the five-year pro. “We wanted to get bigger up front. We were undersized last year and we knew it. We just kept our tenacity up. Obviously, we’re doing some different things defensively this year to help out with that. Being bigger and stronger this year will help out with that.”
Russell S. Baxter covers the Denver Broncos for Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter at @baxfootballguru. Looking for more Broncos news and features? Like our Broncos Facebook page HERE and also follow @spot_broncos on Twitter.