The Denver Broncos — to this point in the NFL season — have had the best defense in the NFL. Now, it’s time to add Derek Wolfe back into the mix.
The Broncos’ run defense hasn’t been nearly as great as their pass rush, though it’s been awesome nonetheless, but Wolfe will help change that and his return provides an excitement that hasn’t been felt in Denver in a long, long time.
Wade Phillips has done a phenomenal job of creating schemes to limit the opposing team’s best offensive threats and forcing them into uncomfortable situations. Up to this point, it hasn’t really resulted in a dominant win for the Broncos on the scoreboard but it has helped lead to a 4-0 record and a two-game lead in the AFC West.
Wolfe’s return only fortifies a unit that is already looking like the most dominant in the league. Wolfe was playing great in limited snaps this pre-season, showing off his ability to stop the run but also providing strong pass rush, which is what he was initially drafted for.
This is an exciting addition because when Wolfe was drafted in the 2nd round in 2012, he was sort of a ‘tweener’ coming out of Cincinnati. He didn’t have a clear position in the NFL, but the Broncos put him as a base end in a 4-3 scheme which suited him well in run defense but hasn’t highlighted him as a pass rusher at all.
In this defense with different gap responsibilities, I think Wolfe is going to absolutely flourish. His quickness and strength are his two best qualities, but he was a sack artist from the defensive interior in college, and we’ve yet to really see a ton of that in the NFL. With Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware coming off the edges, Wolfe is going to get a ton of great matchups inside rotating with Vance Walker, Antonio Smith, and Malik Jackson, all of whom have been excellent so far this season.
This will also be the first time since I can remember that the Broncos’ projected starting unit defensively will actually see a regular season game all together. We had such high hopes for every defense in the Peyton Manning era with the free agent moves John Elway has made and the draft picks that have come in, but we’ve yet to see it all together on the field at the same time.
Sunday against the Raiders will finally provide us that opportunity, so as Broncos fans, it’ll be important to savor the greatness of the talent that will be out on the field. It’s going to be an absolute treat to watch.
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