Andrew Healy at Football Outsiders broke down what made the difference in the Broncos-Colts game, particularly noting how well Andrew Luck played against the blitz when he had struggled previously.
I suspect that’s why the Broncos blitzed Luck so much, because he had struggled against it. But as Healy notes, there were other issues that affected the Broncos, ranging from untimely penalties to injuries to players that may have limited what they could do. During the game, the Broncos not only lost DeMarcus Ware in the third quarter for the remainder of the game, but had to rest Chris Harris, T.J. Ward and Brandon Marshall for several plays.
Only Ware is expected to miss games, but not having four of your best defensive players at various spots doesn’t help your defense.
However, the game was a reminder for the Broncos that it’s not always a good idea to blitz regularly, because some quarterbacks will do well against it even if they keep getting hit. Add in a new offensive coordinator for the Colts and it may have been better if the Broncos had backed off on the blitzing in the second half and put more guys in coverage to see if it might work better.
The Broncos might be able to get away with blitzing Alex Smith regularly this week because he doesn’t handle it well, but they’ll need to be careful doing that with Jay Cutler the following week, given that Cutler has improved this season and has generally handled blitzes well. And the Broncos will definitely have to limit blitzes when New England comes to Mile High, because Tom Brady has been very effective against the blitz.
You can read Healy’s article for most notes about the game, but it’s worth noting he thinks Sunday’s game may just be an anomaly for the defense, while saying that the offense did take a step in the right direction (even if stats don’t suggest it) and that the Broncos dominated special teams, largely thanks to Omar Bolden’s punt return TD.