And although Shane Ray (four sacks) has performed well since taking over for Ware, the reintroduction of the veteran pass rusher will be a big step forward in the defense's pursuit of regaining their identity and returning to their former dominance.
Since Ware's injury, the defense hasn't necessarily lost their edge, but they've certainly had slow starts. In the four games since his absence, the Broncos have surrendered three first-drive touchdowns and a second-drive touchdown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The inability to focus suggests a lack of leadership in the Broncos' front seven. They've ultimately been able to adjust and (to some extent) slow down the opposing offense by the second half, but their inability to make an early stop has crippled Denver's successful formula of grabbing a quick lead and playing attack defense to seal the victory.
In terms of production, Ray has proved to be an explosive bookend opposite Von Miller, but pass rush isn't always about sacks so much as it as about hurries and discipline. Too often, Ray and Miller have over-pursued the quarterback and left the defense vulnerable to a quick, three-step drop (which Philip Rivers used) or even a draw play.
There's not much of a lack of talent on the Broncos defense. Currently, it's in need of leadership and organization. Hopefully, that will return with Ware.
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Will Keys is an Editor for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @WillKeys6.