The Denver Broncos‘ Super Bowl XLVIII loss, like any loss, was a team loss. There was plenty of blame to go around. However, when it comes to the three phases of the game, offense, defense, and special teams, the defense comes in third in the blame game. That notwithstanding, the Broncos’ front office and coaching staff put together their off-season shopping list with defensive needs at the top of the list; ahead of the offense, special teams, eggs, milk, and bread.
As most of us know by now, hard-hitting safety, T.J. Ward, all-world (if/when he’s healthy) cornerback, Aqib Talib, and defensive end, DeMarcus Ware were among the first three players signed in the off season. The only questions about the latter two are related to health/age. One thing not in question about Ware, is leadership.
Ware is exhibiting his leadership both on and off the field. Coming off of a season-ending elbow injury in 2013 with the Dallas Cowboys, he recognizes that he is at that point in his career where age is catching up to him. He referenced newly enshrined Hall of Famer, Michael Strahan and likely HOFer, Jason Taylor as setting the standard and example as older pass rushers.
DeMarcus realized that Strahan and Taylor both dropped weight after they turned 30 so they can get to opposing quarterbacks with speed and minimize the grind of contact with 300+ pound behemoth offensive lineman. The commitment to this strategy should keep DeMarcus from Ware-ing down later in the year (yes, that just happened). In a Denver Post article by Broncos’ beat writer, Troy Renck, Ware opined about the two pass-rushing greats.
“You think about guys like Michael Strahan and Jason Taylor, guys who later in their career got smaller. That’s the key, not carrying a lot of weight,” Ware said. “I need to make sure I am in the trainer’s room almost every day. You can’t just go out there like a cheetah and go chase prey.”
Even when Ware is not on the practice field, he involves himself with fellow defensive players as a mentor and coach-like influence. At one point during camp this past week, defensive end, Ware went to Quanterus Smith and coached him with technique. Shortly there after, Smith beat the best left tackle in the game, Ryan Clady in one-on-one drills.
“He’s taught me how to be a better man off the field,” defensive end Malik Jackson said of Ware.
Along with the depth on the defensive line, DeMarcus Ware’s leadership should make the Denver Broncos’ defense one of , if not, THE nastiest in the NFL in 2014.
On a side note, Ware turned 32 this past Thursday. So Happy Birthday, DeMarcus! Here’s to hoping that, in February you get a big shiny trophy with a football on top of it as a belated present.