It wasn’t a dream. The Broncos starting defense really did hold the Seahawks to 3 first half points and 39 total first half yards.
It wasn’t just last night that exposed Denver’s improved defense. It’s been since from the start of preseason that Denver’s defense has shown a new face. Against both the Cowboys and the Bills, the team’s starting defense allowed just 3 points and 90 yards in each game.
The noticeable difference to Denver’s defense is in the pressure up front. That comes from Elvis Dumervil’s return from injury and from Von Miller’s loud emergence into the pro game.
“They are some talented guys on the edge, and that’s what they do,” Tarvaris Jackson said. “We were just trying to get them in the run game, but when we got behind the sticks a little bit, we had to pass the ball some more. Hats off to those guys for the job they did.”
Dumervil finished the night with 1.5 sacks while Miller finished with 2 sacks, and 2 tackles.
“They make the back end guys’ job easy,”middle linebacker Joe Mays said. “How fast they get to the ball, they make our job in coverage pretty easy. I’m loving life right now.”
It’s not just Mays who is loving life. Left defensive end Robert Ayers likes that they take up much of the offensive line’s focus.
“You got two guys like that getting to the quarterback, and all you want to join,” Ayers said.
The Broncos can’t rely solely on Dumervil and Miller as the defense’s backbone because injuries do happen, and all players must be ready to step up.
“We’re not depending on one individual to make plays,” Brain Dawkins said. “We have a bunch of guys doing a lot of good things on the football field.”
Along with Dumervil and Miller’s presence, the major shift in defensive success has come from a change in overall philosophy.
“We emphasize in getting up field more, and turning and working edges,” Ayers said. “Last year, was more of a gap defense, you stay in your lane. No need to look back onto last year. It’s just a different emphasis and I’m pretty sure it shows.”
Ayers is right. It does show. Now it needs to continue.