Jack Del Rio finally did it.
He is finally coaching a team that is getting the better of Peyton Manning. Del Rio had to join him to one-up him, if not exactly beat him. The Broncos' defense coordinated by Del Rio has been outperforming the Broncos' offense quarterbacked by Manning.
With two regular-season games remaining, Denver's defense has pulled off the rare double of ranking No. 2 in the NFL in stopping the run and ranking No. 2 in sacks.
Some defenses are built to stop the run. Other defenses can rush the quarterback. Name another defense that can do both as well as Del Rio's defense.
"He's the wizard," said Von Miller, the best player on the Broncos' defense.
And to show there's no hard feelings, Del Rio's defense has directly accounted for 46 points on six touchdown returns and two safeties. Without those points, the Broncos would rank eighth in scoring instead of second.
"This isn't about me," Del Rio said in quick, reflexive correction. "This should be about we."
Nationally, the general feeling is the Broncos are a Super Bowl contender because of Manning. That is not the full truth. The reason the Broncos may have a legitimate chance to win it all is they have Manning on one side of the ball and a defense that may be even better on the other side of the ball.
After all those years of beating Del Rio the head coach, Manning is happy that Del Rio is his team's defensive coordinator. In Del Rio's eight full seasons, from 2003-10, as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, he competed in the same AFC South Division as Manning's Indianapolis Colts.
Manning's Colts won the division title all eight years.
"This is his defense here," Manning said. "I think what Jack's doing here with the defense is kind of unique. I think he's kind of implemented some of the ... it's kind of his stuff, I think. It doesn't look like Jacksonville's, I'll say that."
"Reality of football"
The evolution of the Broncos' defense has been a two-year process. First, Denver head coach John Fox, whose background was almost completely steeped in defense, took a 2010 unit that ranked last in nearly every category and raised it to at least the level of mediocrity a year ago.
And that was without the offseason to implement his defense because of the NFL lockout. One of Fox's first moves this year was to hire Del Rio as defensive coordinator, after Dennis Allen got the Oakland Raiders' head coaching job, and together they came up with multiple fronts and disguised coverages. They use over fronts (which are aligned toward the tight end) and under sink (which is similar to a 3-4 alignment). There is Sam (strongside linebacker) on the line closed, Sam stacked closed, Sam on the line open, Sam stacked closed. They will shade the defensive tackles this way or that way. But that's complicated chalkboard-in-the-classroom stuff.
"On paper, every team has a blocking scheme that's going to work against every defensive scheme," said Denver defensive tackle Justin Bannan. "But then there's the reality of football. Jack understands the reality of football."
It's well documented that Del Rio is the Broncos' seventh defensive coordinator in seven years, but he also is the only one who played in the NFL.
"That's one of the best things about him," said Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. "He understands we're not robots. He has a way that he wants things done. But he'll tell you: 'You know what I want. You make it happen.' "
Explained Del Rio: "There might be a guy in front of you who's a little short on a block. And on the blackboard his assignment is to be here and you're going to be there. But if a guy is a little short on a block, you might have to scrape past to make the play. This an overall awareness and understanding of how it all ties together.
"There will be instances where we'll give a guy a freedom to do something, but there's somebody covering for him. It's not haphazard. It's not without discipline. It's not without accountability."
Read more: Denver Broncos' coordinator Jack Del Rio showcases Jack-of-all-trades defensive style - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci...#ixzz2Ffluw5tJ