Chris Humphreys/USA Today

Derek Wolfe Is On Pace For An All-Pro 2016 Campaign

How good has DE Derek Wolfe been through four games?

In the Denver Broncos 4-0 start to the season that has been led by superstar linebacker Von Miller, it is easy to forget how dominant defensive end Derek Wolfe has been.  In just a quarter of the season to date, Wolfe has terrorized opposing quarterbacks to the tune of four sacks which would be just a shade off his 2015 total of 5.5.

Wolfe has also chipped in a 16 combined solo and assisted tackles which has set a pace for him to surpass his tackle total from last year, when he notched 49 combined stops. After the win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Coach Gary Kubiak singled out Wolfe for his excellent performance on Sunday. The D-lineman took down quarterback Jameis Winston in Tampa’s final series to seal the win.

“Derek is playing really well," Kubiak said. "Just teasing with him in the locker room I said, ‘You waited an hour and a half to go back out there and get one more sack?’. I think he had a sack at the end of the game. I’m proud of all our guys."

After the glow of the win had dissipated and the team begins to prepare for its next matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, Kubiak pointed to Wolfe's tremendous offseason preparation. 

“I think Derek has a great offseason, number one," Kubiak said. "He’s in really good shape. He had some things going on with his family and he missed the last couple weeks of camp there. We held him out. He’s come back and he’s been exceptional. I think his ability to stay on the field a lot of plays right now is panning out, playing well for [Defensive Line Coach] Bill [Kollar]. What did he have, two and a half sacks yesterday? He actually was one of our defensive players of the game.”

Linebacker Shane Ray has been the beneficiary of the great interior play that Wolfe brings to the defense. On Monday, Ray touched on that topic and what Wolfe brings to the defensive side of the ball.

“Wolfe makes it easier for sure," Ray said. "Just the presence that he has in the middle, pushing the pocket, beating his guys, opens up stuff for us. Him playing like that it’s just going to keep making us better as a defense.”

Cornerback Aqib Talib was another member of the defense who made sure that Wolfe and the rest of the interior defensive line would get some love from the media.

“He’s the middle of our ‘D’, him and ‘Sly’ [NT Sylvester Williams], they control the middle of our ‘D’ and it starts with those guys," Talib said. "If we’re going to stop the run, it’s going to start with those guys. They’re the front line of our defense; we don’t talk about them enough.” Ask any quarterback — the type of pressure that bothers them the most is when a defensive tackle can collapse the pocket from the interior, moving them off their preferred throwing spot and ending the play with either a sack or a throw-away. 

While a nimble-footed quarterback can step up to evade the pass rush that might come from the edge or even move slightly in the pocket to avoid a blitzer, that becomes more difficult when someone like Wolfe can push a lineman into a quarterback's lap and either get the sack himself, or set up someone like Miller or Ray to clean up on the outside.

In that aspect, the type of pass rush that Wolfe can generate from the inside is a commodity that is harder to find among 3-4 defensive ends.

Since Wolfe signed his four-year, $ 36.7 million contract last season, he has been one of the game’s best interior lineman. Proving to be a force both against the run and the pass, Wolfe has kept the defense producing at their usual elite level and has helped Denver's defense to lead the league in sacks.

With a full season to work with and a defense around him performing at a high level, look for Wolfe to continue his torrid pace that will potentially land him in Honolulu for his efforts. Unless he’s playing for another Super Bowl title, that is.


Adam Uribes is an Analyst for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @auribes37.

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