DeMarcus Ware knows that there are many things that are too good to keep to yourself. A lesser player might hide a few tricks that could keep him higher on the depth chart than the next guy. Players like Von Miller and Ware don’t need to sink that low. More importantly—they know that every time a teammate learns another way to stop the offense, the Broncos gain another chance to win the game.
Not every team is like that. There’s no shortage of players or teams where it’s every man for himself. Individuality rules. Jaws get broken. Careers are on the line. Contracts might depend on you knowing what the next man doesn’t. It’s something that a lot of men struggle with. Some don’t care enough to struggle with it at all.
It’s no shock that I’m a long-time trenchhead. I’ve been trained extensively in very similar techniques to those that linemen use. I was fortunate enough to teach postural analysis professionally. I also love to lose myself in the clinic presentations published by C.O.O.L, created by the Mushroom Society.
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They got the feeling that offensive lines are so often ignored that they were left in the dark and fed cattle waste. It’s often a fair analysis of the lot of the linemen. The defense knows that offensive linemen are often prone to subconscious tells. They aren’t alone in that—many, perhaps most, players have them.
One secret that sometimes travels from team to team are the tells that every team’s players are prone to. A receiver may be tasked with driving across in a dig route and change his stance slightly in preparation.
Everyone who’s watched the movie ‘Invincible’—98% of the males of the species—knows that applying force on the supporting fingers creates a change in the color of the knuckles. Every tell is a potential sack, a down of lost yardage and perhaps a fumble or two.
Ware, along with the defensive backs and any other defenseman who notices a tell, is letting the Broncos offense know every time they use that knowledge to defeat a play. It’s a gift that I have never heard of a defense sharing with their teammates this openly.
“I think when you sort of think about a team and think about some of the keys that you would maybe had—if a guy is tipping off a play by a position or a guy's tipping off a play by him just doing some type of tendency, that's what I'm really known for doing is picking up a lot of guys' tendencies,” Ware said last week. “I'd go and tell them. I would also say, 'What do you see on the defense?' Like with me, they'll say, 'Hey, well then your stance is narrow when you're doing this,' or 'you're a little bit wider-stanced when you're maybe dropping.’”
"If the offense is better and they're scoring points," Ware continued, "it gives me more of an opportunity to rush the passer."
That’s the kind of thinking that he brings.
It’s not the kind of interaction that’s common between offense and defense. On some teams, they barely even interact. They usually get along, but this kind of openness is new to me. In over five decades as a fan and writer, I’ve never heard of it before.
But it’s not a surprise. The Broncos have learned a lot of lessons. Toughness. Physicality. Tenacity. The essential need for the lowest player to be the best player he can be. Working together, endlessly. Expecting constant development. Mentoring as a matter of course.
Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib are open books for their colleagues in the backfield. T.J. Ward shares with everyone who asks or needs to. Ware is justifiably famous for his constant teaching. Every time it happens, the Broncos get a little closer to the real goal.
We all know what that is. Endless effort equals tangible achievement. Mentoring can hone each player into reaching his maximum potential.
It’s what you see in championship teams.
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