Broncos 2015: What makes their defense elite?


Oct 4, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) runs the ball against -Denver Broncos outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) and strong safety T.J. Ward (43) during the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t get me wrong, my roll is slow…you might say at a snail’s pace. However, since defense wins championships and that of the Denver Broncos is the best in the league at the quarter pole in the 2015 NFL season, we in Broncos’ Country have reason to be very excited. For the 3rd time this season, a core player on the Broncos’ defense, safety, T.J. Ward, was awarded the AFC Defensive Player of the Week/Month.

Ward was just recognized as the POTW for is 2-sacks, 6-solo tackles, and one forced fumble performance last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. The second of Ward’s two sacks, and his forced fumble, came with :35 seconds left in the game.

Ward’s big, timely play sealed the Broncos’ 23-20 victory. His honor was preceded by Linebacker, DeMarcus Ware earning AFC Defensive Player of the Month for the month of September and defensive backfield mate, Aqib Talib, earning POTW honors for his week performance against the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener.

So what does this all mean? Nothing at the moment. Well, other than the fact that our defense is one to be feared by the rest of the NFL. Feared not only because of a stout, dogmatic front seven and opportunistic secondary, but the fact that when the big plays are most needed, this defense provides them.

For example, Talib intercepted Joe Flacco in week one and returned it for the only touchdown the Broncos scored in a 19-13 win; second year cornerback, Bradley Roby picked up a fumble by Kansas City Chiefs‘ running back Jamaal Charles, which was forced by Linebacker Brandon Marshall, and returned it for a score. That score salted away an important road win against a divisional rival in week two.

It’s not just the more high profile plays that makes this defense nearly impossible for opposing offensive coordinators to game plan against. During the off-season, almost to a man, these guys could not express how excited they were to play in Wade Phillips‘ 3-4 scheme because it took the reigns off and allowed them to fly around to the ball. And that is exactly what is happening.

You could call the linebacker corp of Danny Travathan, Shaq Barrett, Marshall, Ware, rookie, first round draft choice, Shane Ray, and of course, Von Miller the “Orange & Blue Angels” with how they fly. We’ll get to Miller in a bit.

The guys who are not appearing on the stat sheet, or getting the headlines themselves need their shouts-out as well. Guys like third year defensive tackle, Sylvester Williams is exactly what the doctor prescribed in plugging up the middle and creating no running lanes inside.

Williams also is able to apply pressure up the middle, which makes quarterbacks very uncomfortable. And an uncomfortable quarterback is a vulnerable quarterback. Even though Travathen, Barrett, Marshall, and Ray are not getting the big headlines, they have been every bit as important to those receiving the accolades.

If you watch any game to this point, you will see these guys in and around almost every tackle, along with hearing their names during the broadcasts. These are the guys who are making it easier for Ware, Miller, Talib, Chris Harris, Jr, Ward, et al to make their game-changing plays. 

Now let’s talk about the guy on our defense who should be a candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year on an annual basis, Von Miller. One of the biggest advantages the other members of the front seven have is the fact that Miller is seeing a double-team blocking scheme against him every week.

Many times, the opposition will also send a tight end or running back out Von’s way to chip him in order to slow him up. Since each side of the ball can only play with eleven men…well, you do the math.

In spite of the incessant double-teams, Miller has still posted nine tackles (8 solo), two sacks, and one fumble recovery in four games. At some point, you would think offensive coordinators are going to have to start focusing their attention toward Ware, Ray, and blitzing DBs as well. In order to do that, they will have to abandon the doubling of Von and in that case, “KATY BAR THE DOOR!!!”

This Broncos’ defense has been spoken of by some pundits as one which could be, historically, among the best that the league has ever seen. Through four weeks, and with three high honors already, I think they might be right. But I’m gonna slow my roll.

Oh, and if this defense wasn’t stout enough, defensive end, Derek Wolfe comes back off of suspension in time for this week’s game in Oakland. Have a nice day!

Next: Exclusive interview with Captain Bronco