Seven defensive coordinators in seven years is not for the faint of heart. Unfortunately for the Denver Broncos, that’s the way the cards fell. Perhaps no player has had a more difficult time dealing with the constant change than future Hall of Fame cornerback Champ Bailey.
Every year Bailey and the rest of the Broncos defense have had to watch a new coach walk in and introduce a defensive philosophy. Only so much improvement can be made to a defense in one year thanks to personnel issues and the large learning curve that accompanies any new coach that walks through the door.
This year’s defensive switch, however, is one that echos through the Dove Valley walls. Jack Del Rio has such a history as a player and as a coach.
“It’s good to have a guy that’s played the game,” Bailey explained. “He’s been a head coach, and I know he’s hungry as ever.”
A guy like Bailey can be Del Rio’s best friend. If Bailey endorses the new defensive philosophy, the rest of the team will believe in it.
“I know what he expects from me and he knows what I expect from him,” Bailey said.
The defense showed a marked improvement last season. In 2010, they were last in points allowed (29.4 per game), 31st in rushing defense and 25th in passing defense. They were also last in sacks with just 23.0 on the season.
Fast forward one year to a new coaching staff and the Broncos defense was 24th in points allowed (24.4 per game), 22nd in rushing defense, 18th in passing defense, and 11th in sacks with 41.0.
Dennis Allen can be credited with a lot of that as can No. 2 overall draft pick in 2011, Von Miller. However, the team still has a lot of work to do to be a championship team.
“Being more consistent, getting our young guys to play better,” Bailey said of how the team needs to improve further. “They don’t understand how important they are, or they were last year. Every guy in that building or in that meeting room is important. They’ve got to understand what their roles are. They’ve just got to maximize their ability, just go out there and play balls out.”
Make that Orange Crush balls out.