"What are some of the emphasis we have? We have to get better on defense — there is no question about that. I think the No. 1 way we do that is we have to get some continuity on the defensive side. We have to get some continuity where guys are under the same system year in and year out and can go out and play. No. 2, we need to win at home. We have lost our home-field advantage, and that is something we need to get back ... to protect our turf up here at 5,280 feet. I am looking forward to the challenge."— John Elway, at his introductory news conference as the new man in charge of the Broncos' football operations, Jan. 5, 2011
Two years later, the Broncos have home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and a defense that ranked No. 2 in the NFL this season.
Know where the Broncos' home-field advantage exceeds all others? When they're ahead by two scores in the second half. That's when the altitude really goes to work. That's when Cleveland Browns all-pro offensive tackle Joe Thomas doesn't quite come off the ball as he did in the first half. That's when the Broncos' secondary becomes amused at how Drew Brees' New Orleans Saints receivers rotate out because of fatigue from running route after route after route.
"Dan Reeves once said that when the Broncos were losing, no one mentioned the altitude," said Tom Jackson, a star Broncos linebacker during the Orange Crush era and a longtime ESPN analyst. "And as soon as we started winning, people started telling us how hard it was to breathe here."
An offensive touchdown may draw applause. But a defensive sack incites bedlam. The fans are taught, by Manning's down-waving arms, to stay quiet when the offense has the ball. But they are exhorted, by the Denver defenders' up-waving arms, to cut loose when the other team's quarterback is trying to operate.
"They have to use the silent count," said Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil. "(Offensive) tackles move when they see you move. With the crowd noise, that can be the difference between a quarterback hit and a sack-forced fumble."
Led by Dumervil, Von Miller and Derek Wolfe, the Broncos tied for the league lead with 52 sacks this season.
"I still believe in the end what wins championships is being able to stop people," Jackson said. "But with the rule changes and the evolution of the game to throwing the ball, there is such a lack of defense in this league that you find that the four or five teams that really have one, it's unusual now."
Denver's No. 2 defensive ranking is up 30 spots from where it was when Elway took charge two years ago. The Broncos' 7-1 record at Sports Authority Field this season is their best home performance since 2005.
Read more: John Elway's vision helped restore Broncos' home-field edge, defense - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci...#ixzz2HkQmvWVK