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Old 03-26-2012, 10:44 AM   #1
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Default Can Denver's defense take next step?

Can Denver's defense take next step?



Mar 26 11:00 AM ET By Bill Williamson




Barring a setback from the neck injury that cost him the entire 2011 season, Peyton Manning has the Denver Broncos’ offense covered. That side of the ball will be fine and will be in playoff form.

But what about the defense?

That side of the ball will be a key to Denver's season. If the 2012 Denver defense can make the strides it did in 2011, the Broncos have a chance to be a serious contender.

Bill Polian, who knows Manning well, has said he thinks the potential of the Broncos' defense is one of the reasons Manning chose to play in Denver. Polian, the Colts’ former general manager who brought Manning to Indianapolis and who is now an ESPN analyst, said last week he thinks the Denver defense could be a spark for the Manning-led offense.

“John Fox is going to coach up that defense and it has a chance to play great defense,” Polian said. “That will only help Peyton.”

However, I believe the Broncos have work to do before they can start playing great defense.

This unit is a work in progress. It went from No. 32 in 2010 prior to Fox’s arrival to No. 20 in 2011 under the guidance of Fox and coordinator Dennis Allen, who is now the head coach in Oakland. The 2011 Denver Broncos will be remembered for the wild days of Tim Tebow, but it was the defense that rose up and solidified the team. With Manning running the offense and former Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio running the defense, the team has a chance to go to the next level.

The defense in Denver starts with pass-rushers Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller. The pair combined for 21 sacks last season and they should be one of the most dynamic pass-rush duos in the NFL for years to come. Polian called the pair special and an anchor for the defense.

Denver upgraded at cornerback by signing Tracy Porter of New Orleans. He is a solid No. 2 cornerback and will make a strong pairing with the aging, but still dominant Champ Bailey. Porter, who has had challenges staying healthy, is an upgrade from Andre Goodman. Underrated safety Mike Adams was signed from Cleveland. He will pair with second-year player Quinton Carter, who made strides as the season went on. The team will give 2011 No. 2 pick Rahim Moore a chance to rebound from a rookie season in which he regressed. But Adams and Carter should be a serviceable pairing.

There are some problems, though. Outside linebacker D.J. Williams, one of the better defenders on the team, is facing a six-game NFL suspension for using a banned substance. He is fighting it in the form of a lawsuit. Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley signed with New Orleans. Bunkley was a tone-setter, and even though he played only 43 percent of the snaps, he will be missed.

Denver has a major void at defensive tackle and it probably will take advantage of a strong draft class at the position and use the No. 25 pick on a player such as Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox, Penn State’s Devon Still or LSU’s Michael Brockers. They also want to re-sign Marcus Thomas and hope 2011 free-agent signee Ty Warren is healthy after missing the past two seasons.

There is no doubt this is still a building project and that concerns Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc.

“I was very worried about this defense, but now I feel a little better about it after it signed Porter, who is a very solid No. 2 behind Bailey,” Williamson said. “But I still have my worries about the defense up the middle. Losing Bunkley hurts quite a bit, but maybe Ty Warren can help out this year. The safety position worries me. But they can sure rush the passer. The question is will be they be able to handle a physical offense.”

After being the bright spot of a surprise team in 2011, the Denver defense must take the next step in a year when, suddenly, much is expected from this team.




http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post...take-next-step
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:09 AM   #2
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surprisingly good write up
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:20 AM   #3
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Amazing, this may be the best piece of Burger Bill writing I have ever seen.

Improvements over last year:

Healthy Doom - there is no way to overstate this, he is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game and having him healthy the whole season is a huge upgrade.
Von Miller with a years experience - he was a stud as a rookie playing a new position, now that he has a year in the scheme he will be even better - with Dumervil he combines to give us the pass rush that Mathis and Freeney gave Indy for so many years.
Tracey Porter - Goodman got picked on badly by good QBs, with Porter we get a much better matchup on that side of the field.
1 more year - Ayers got better as the season progressed, that should continue, Quinton Carter got better, Harris got better, Thomas got better, I am looking for several players to get more comfortable in the system, for the first time we have the same defense two years in a row.

Regression:

DT - Bunkley was a loss, and he hasn't been replaced, even if we get a DT in the 1st round, they typically take a number of years to reach peak performance.
Dawkins gone - I am not sure he will come back, his presence helped a ton.
DJ suspended - I love Woodyard and I am happy he is back, but he is smallish and not as strong in coverage.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:24 AM   #4
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I don't think we can underestimate how badly Miller's injury hurt his pass-rushing ability. In the beginning of the year, he was the best instinctive pass-rusher I've seen since Derrick Thomas. Miller could swim with either hand, bull-rush and rip, or even spin right off of an engaged lineman. Sometimes he would simply catch an angle and blow by a slow footed tackle. After the injury, he was limited to becoming an obvious speed rusher. A big part of pass rushing is being able to jam the tackle with your hands before he can envelop you. Von couldn't do that effectively after the injury.

This year, a health Miller will be a nightmare for quarterbacks. Especially, if the team is playing with leads.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:32 AM   #5
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i completely missed the Porter signing. was something else in the news overshadowing it?

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Old 03-26-2012, 11:53 AM   #6
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oh God how i wish Brockers would fall to #25. that would be epic and help the defense so much it would be damn near illegal.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lestat View Post
oh God how i wish Brockers would fall to #25. that would be epic and help the defense so much it would be damn near illegal.
Given his combine, there's a chance.

Last edited by Chris; 03-26-2012 at 02:59 PM..
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:55 AM   #8
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given his pro day, that chance melted like a snow ball in hell.
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Given his combine, there's a chance.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:07 PM   #9
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that may be the 1st burger bill write up i agreed with 100%...
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:10 PM   #10
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I still feel like we need another pass rusher. Freeney or someone from the draft I don't care. Hell try and trade DJ for Osi. We need to bring the heat from the front four.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:35 PM   #11
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The other thing to think about.. Whats it going to be like with the Defense playing with a lead on the scoreboard? That more than anything may be the one thing that puts the defense in the top 10 of the league.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:53 PM   #12
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i am not worried. With Fox and Del Rio on board i have no doubts this defense will be improved over last season.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:56 PM   #13
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The other thing to think about.. Whats it going to be like with the Defense playing with a lead on the scoreboard? That more than anything may be the one thing that puts the defense in the top 10 of the league.
That's why I want another pass rusher.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:59 PM   #14
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That's why I want another pass rusher.
i'd love a guy who can get pressure up the middle. it's why i really want Fletcher Cox or Devon Still in the 1st round this year.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:18 PM   #15
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i'd love a guy who can get pressure up the middle. it's why i really want Fletcher Cox or Devon Still in the 1st round this year.
I agree 100%. I do think Ayers is going to be better this year up the middle. A nickel edge rusher soul be sweet too.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:35 PM   #16
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definitely want another pass rusher on the team. i think there will be some tweeners and underrated guys that fall to the 2nd and 3rd rounds who will blossom into big time DE's.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:48 PM   #17
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I agree 100%. I do think Ayers is going to be better this year up the middle. A nickel edge rusher soul be sweet too.
if Ayers finally makes the next step in his progression and we get a good up the middle DT rusher this can be an extremely potent pass rushing defense.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:09 PM   #18
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if Ayers finally makes the next step in his progression and we get a good up the middle DT rusher this can be an extremely potent pass rushing defense.
I thought he played his best football at the end of last season and in the playoffs. Part of me thinks that's why the coaching staff isn't all that worried about a DT yet.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:15 PM   #19
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Manning will give the defense less time and positions to actually D up so i say yea they'll take the next step
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:18 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I thought he played his best football at the end of last season and in the playoffs. Part of me thinks that's why the coaching staff isn't all that worried about a DT yet.
I agree. I always got the sense that he had a lot of ability, but struggled with leverage and the cerebral parts of the game. In the playoffs, he seemed to really shed blockers a lot more effectively. I think the light bulb has gone off. It would be really exciting if that's the case.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:37 PM   #21
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What's the "next step"? If it amounts to going from bad to mediocre, maybe, but they have to get better at DT for that to happen. Right now the DT position all but assures us a bottom five defense, especially against the run.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:48 PM   #22
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losing Dennis Allen is going to affect us as well

love the Del Rio hire, but the swinging gate at DC needs to end at some point
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:52 PM   #23
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Quote:
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What's the "next step"? If it amounts to going from bad to mediocre, maybe, but they have to get better at DT for that to happen. Right now the DT position all but assures us a bottom five defense, especially against the run.
You are talking out your ass, No way this team drops from 20 to 27...as you claim.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:52 PM   #24
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losing Dennis Allen is going to affect us as well

love the Del Rio hire, but the swinging gate at DC needs to end at some point
Fox had plenty of imput. I'm sure replacing a 30 some DC won't be a problem. In fact Denver will take the next step because I doubt we lead the league in 3 and outs this next year.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:53 PM   #25
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We need to draft a defensive tackle. He won't be that good, may even bust since they have a pretty good bust rate - but you need to make a statement and invest in the position to show you are actually trying.
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