Denver Broncos defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, who is playing in a contract year, has been playing the best football of his NFL career so far in 2015…
Defensive end Derek Wolfe said following his four-game suspension to start the season for a banned substance that he felt like a caged animal, and that he was ready to unleash. He has, to this point, made good on that promise. In just seven games, it’s clear to see that Wolfe is in the best shape of his NFL career, as explosive as he’s ever been, and he’s making more plays than anyone on the Denver defensive front right now.
We’ve said before that this unit has studs at every level, but we’ve really been waiting for the breakouts from guys like Sly Williams and Wolfe. We’ve certainly seen it from Wolfe this year.
In the Broncos’ Super Bowl bid back in 2013, Wolfe suffered a neck injury in the preseason against the Seattle Seahawks. The injury affected him so badly during the season, he was playing well under his normal playing weight and collapsed on the way to the team’s flight to Kansas City right around this time two years ago.
Wolfe was hospitalized, and forced to injured reserve before spending the offseason growing, rehabbing, and getting himself back into football shape.
He played solid in 16 games last season for the Broncos, but registered just 1.5 sacks and appeared to be in need of a big year in order to make some bank in 2016, in which he is eligible for unrestricted free agency.
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With 32 tackles in seven games, Wolfe is already on pace to break his career mark of 40 set in 2012, his rookie season with the team. He has two sacks in the last two games, and is playing generally out of his mind against both the run and pass. He was named AFC defensive player of the week against the Green Bay Packers, a game where he was absolutely dominant against the run.
Against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, Wolfe was again the most dominant defender on the field for the Broncos, making plays like this…
And here he is against the Chicago Bears…
And against the Packers…
Wolfe’s return to the Broncos’ defense has been huge. He’s playing with such great leverage, using his upper body strength, and imposing his will on opposing linemen. This is the Derek Wolfe the Broncos were expecting all along, though there have been a couple of setbacks along the way. He’s finally playing the type of football that he was drafted so highly to play, and the Broncos’ defense is benefitting greatly from it.
He’s flourished in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense, and should continue to do so. Hopefully the Broncos are able to find a way to lock him up with a new contract after the season.