For all the bad-mouthing the Denver Broncos have received since naming the untested Trevor Siemian as the starting quarterback for this upcoming season, pundits and experts alike are overlooking a defense that was the backbone of the team last season.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1681565-5-reasons-you-should-go-p... While Siemian will have to carry his water this year, the Denver defense was constructed to be the foundation for, not only year’s team, but for this season, as well.
Over the summer, notables like safety T.J. Ward and Bronco great Rod Smith, have come forward stating that more should be expected from the record-setting defense of 2015. In addition to having a great regular season, the Mile High No Fly would go on an historic run that culminated in bringing a Lombardi trophy back to the city of Denver.
But, in seriously evaluating Denver's defense, there are some ways that they could be even better in 2016.
Its peculiar to think that Wade Phillips wasn’t even the first choice for then recently-hired Gary Kubiak to take over the defense that had been burdened and weighed down from previous defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
All Phillips did last season was take off the burdens of a zone-heavy, read-and-react defense under Del Rio and turn the group loose, allowing them to play fast and aggressive as a unit.
Going into this year and having a better idea of what each member on his defense does well, we should see even more varied blitzing schemes from the Son of Bum.
Curbing the Penalties
Every coach wants their guys to play with a mean streak and the Denver defense possesses that trait in spades. With players like the aforementioned Ward, and Aqib Talib, the team sets a physical tone early and often in games.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1703925-broncos-vs-panthers-3-key... However, that type of play lends itself to emotions getting the better of a player, manifesting in silly personal foul penalties. These penalties help opposing offenses keep drives alive and allows the defense to be on the field longer than it needs be.
With Malik Jackson gone, one of 2015's most frequent personal foul culprits — and Talib facing a possible suspension — the team will hopefully avoid those type of penalties, and keep the opposition from putting needless points on the board.
For a Broncos offense that may be still finding its way early in the season, they'll need all the help they can get from their defense.
The Offense Will Be Better
With the starting lineup on the offensive line finally settled, the Broncos can now allow those five players to gel and get used to playing as a unit. Yes, Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch will have the typical ups and downs one expects from inexperienced players, but an efficient O-line that keeps them upright can only help.
The running game looked good in moments during the preseason and as the O-line gets more accustomed to each other, look for the Broncos to be a throwback team that will use the run to set up the pass. Longer drives that chew up clock will allow a defensive unit that was overworked in 2015 to be rested in 2016
Von Miller Is Back
After a testy and tumultuous contract negotiation that finally ended with the Super Bowl MVP signing on for the foreseeable future, the Broncos enter 2016 knowing they wouldn’t have to play without the one-man wrecking crew that is Von Miller.
Miller has come a long way during his time with team and instead of just being a great pass rusher, he's now a force to be reckoned with on all three downs. With the security of having a new deal in front of him, Miller will be looking to build off his postseason from last year that saw him finally turn all his athletic potential into becoming the superstar he is now.
Ware Can Focus On Rushing The Passer
DeMarcus Ware enters this season with his role on the field greatly reduced. Although younger, promising players, like Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray, will have the first opportunities to take over for Ware at outside linebacker, it will be a blessing in disguise for the future Hall of Famer.
Ware’s back problems are well documented and it kept him out of OTA’s and much of training camp during the buildup to this season. Even at his age (34), Ware can still get after the quarterback with the best of them, but over the course of a full season of taking on blocks in the run game, it was clearly taking its toll on the veteran.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1704077-mhh-predicts-broncos-vs-p... In his new role as pass-rush specialist, Ware can still be factor on the field and be fresher down the stretch for a potential playoff run, when the team will need it the most. It will also keep Ware’s veteran leadership on the minds of the defense, as well, which can’t be overlooked.
It would be surprising for a part-time player to be named a team captain, but in the case of DeMarcus Ware, it was a foregone conclusion.
Championships are hard to win and even harder to defend.
Although I believe the offense will be improved this year, they'll still be a work in progress, but with a defense that could be even better in 2016, Siemian and company will have time to figure things out.
The fans are eager to see what this new season will bring from the defense, and the defense, in turn, are champing at the bit to give Broncos Country something to cheer about.
Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.
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