Dear Coach Del Rio,
I have signed three new free agents for your side of the ball. You know their names. You will also get the services of a star linebacker, an up-and-coming cornerback, a hungry safety and run stuffer.
Now go make that unit something special.
The Broncos defense last season was the weak link without a doubt. Still, the Broncos got the Super Bowl before being blown out by the Seattle Seahawks.
Something needed to be done. Denver could not get away with having a can’t-miss offense but a can’t stop anybody defense.
Elway made changes and brought in big names via free agency. Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and DeMarcus Ware all signed contracts for a chance to win the Super Bowl.
Denver will also get players like Chris Harris, Von Miller, Rahim Moore and Kevin Vickerson back from injury. They may not be on the field right away but all of those guys will be in the lineup sooner than later.
The defense already has players like Terrance Knighton who came into his own as the season went on and linebacker Danny Trevathan, who led the team in tackles.
There is no shortage of talent so now the pressure falls to defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio has been with the Broncos for two years now. It is a tale of two different defenses. His first season in Denver, which was Peyton Manning’s as well, was stellar to say the least. The Broncos allowed 18.1 points a game which was good enough for fourth in the NFL. The team also ranked in the top five in total, passing and rushing yards allowed.
The defense didn’t show up in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Del Rio became passive with his calls and his trust in cornerback Champ Bailey backfired as the Broncos were sent home early.
Last season, the Broncos were of course decimated by injuries on defense but the unit was still terrible. Del Rio become so frustrated with a squad that finished 22nd in points allowed he took popular players Wesley Woodyard and Duke Ihenacho out of the lineup at one point. Paris Lenon and Omar Bolden saw time with the starters. They are not that type of quality player.
As training camp is set to begin on Thursday, Del Rio has to figure out how to make the Broncos a top-tier defense. They have all of the parts. There is beyond enough talent and there are at least a couple of “special” players on defense. Ware is probably a future Hall of Famer, Miller has all the talent in the world if he can stay out of trouble and Taib has a nose for the ball which is something the Broncos have been missing.
Del Rio has to have this unit force turnovers. Last season the Broncos were a zero in the turnover ratio. The Super Bowl champion Seahawks were a +20. That is pretty easy math.
Talib is known for finding the ball as is Ward. The other cornerback Harris also comes up with some big players from time-to-time. Del Rio has to use these players to maximize their skills.
He also has two feared pass rushers in Miller and Ware. Use them to put pressure on quarterbacks and force bad throws. Then let the secondary do the rest.
The defense looks great on paper but it will take plenty of coaching to have it look good on the field. Del Rio has to come up big when the Broncos need him.
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