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Old 03-15-2009, 03:05 AM   #1
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Default Rebuilding secondary is Denver's primary goal

A nice break from the Cutler flap....



Broncos' D under major reconstruction
Revising the secondary is Denver's primary goal
By Mike Klis
The Denver Post


Deconstructing the defense wasn't so much expected as demanded. Reconstructing with a pile of new players was a given.

The surprise was how the Broncos' new brain trust of coach Josh McDaniels, general manager Brian Xanders and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan went about rebuilding this unit that was in shambles.

Everybody could see, when hands weren't raised to cover eyes, how opposing offenses gashed through huge holes left by the inept Broncos defense the past two seasons. The Broncos ranked 30th against the run in 2007, allowing 142.6 yards rushing a game. They allowed 3.5 more yards rushing per game in 2008.

So where did the Broncos spend most of their resources to acquire the most accomplished players during the all-but-completed free-agent period?
The secondary.

From the $106.12 million committed to their 12 new free-agent players, the Broncos allocated $47.4 million, or 45 percent, to three defensive backs — cornerback Andre Goodman, safety Brian Dawkins and strong safety Renaldo Hill.

Goodman and Dawkins were the team's highest-priced free agents. Hill tied for third.

"I think people are realizing we're no longer, I guess you would say, second-class citizens," Dawkins said.

The first free-agent spree under the new administration left two conclusions: One, the Broncos will use the draft to rebuild their defensive front. And two, the Broncos' new bosses concluded the team's most glaring defensive deficiency in recent years wasn't so much the quantity of 5-yard runs, but how the weak, second line of defense allowed those 5-yard runs to become 20-, 30- and 65-yard, game-breaking scampers.

That and the fact the Broncos' defense couldn't get a turnover if they were spotted the snap count and a slippery pigskin.

"Last year was such a frustrating year all the way around," Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. "It's good to come back to something that's going to clear things up. Something brand new that can get us back to having a good defense in Denver like we had our first (six) games my rookie year."

Where have you gone, Al Wilson? After reaching the AFC championship game in 2005 with a defense that ranked second against the run, the Broncos allowed an average of only 7.3 points through their first six games of 2006, including a five-game stretch in which they allowed 6, 7, 3, 3 and 7. Remember? Anybody?

The defense, and its coordinators, have been torched since. Larry Coyer was fired after the 2006 season, Jim Bates after 2007 and Bob Slowik followed head coach Mike Shanahan out the door following 2008.

Establishing new system

McDaniels and Nolan have come in wanting to change the defensive system from a four linemen-three linebacker set to a 3-4.

In today's specialized era, there are players who fit a 4-3 and those who are better suited for a 3-4. Thus, phase I of rebuilding consisted of getting six new starters through free agency.

"Dawkins is the marquee guy," said former Broncos guard Mark Schlereth, who is now an NFL analyst for ESPN. "He brings great passion and he still has unbelievable skills. He's an unbelievable addition. The rest of their free-agent class is very Patriot-like."

In other words, they are serviceable starters and efficient role players. Goodman, who Schlereth said "was terrific last year," replaces Dre Bly at right corner. On paper, the Broncos' greatest value may have been inside linebacker Andra Davis. While playing in the "Patriot 3-4" under coach Romeo Crennel in Cleveland, Davis averaged 103 tackles, including 149 in 2005, which was Wilson's last effective season with the Broncos.

Davis has been coming out in nickel packages in recent years, one reason the Broncos snagged him for an affordable two-year, $3.3 million deal. But Davis and Dawkins should instantly improve the run defense.

As for the pass rush, this is where Dumervil bull rushes in. Problem is, if Dumervil wasn't getting to the quarterback, the Broncos weren't getting there. Opposing offenses knew this, which is why Dumervil had to first beat two blockers — a tackle and a back — if he was to power his way to the passer.

It helps explain why Dumervil's sack totals went from 8 1/2 as a rookie to 12 1/2 in 2007 to only five last year.

"The best way to create turnovers is with a good pass rush," Dumervil said.

Turnovers top priority

New team policy has not allowed Nolan to speak publicly, but Dumervil and Dawkins say their new defensive boss already has made it clear turnovers will be a point of emphasis this season, which is almost like saying the key to victory is outscoring the other team. The Broncos had a league-low 13 takeaways last season, four fewer than 31st-ranked Jacksonville. The 0-16 Detroit Lions had 20.

The quest for more turnovers also partially explains the Broncos' successful pursuit of Dawkins, who for years in Philadelphia played for one of the most blitz-happy, turnover-craved defensive coordinators in Jim Johnson.

"I'm very excited about having the opportunity to learn a new defense," Dawkins said. "I say new, but as far as I'm concerned, I know the defense I played in with the Eagles and what we're going to do here has a lot of common ingredients. I know what we all want on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of turnovers. A lot of pressure. But having fun at the same time."

http://www.denverpost.com/broncos/ci_11915486
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:11 AM   #2
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Good article, though I suspect part of this right now is just that there simply weren't any marquee names out there to be had on the DL outside of Haynesworth.

I also think we'll see concentration on the front seven in the coming months via the draft and additional FA pick-ups.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:17 AM   #3
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Have we learned nothing? You don't ****ing rebuild from the secondary to the defensive line.

That is like building a house and starting the roof before the foundation and the walls.

Last edited by arghemtee; 03-15-2009 at 03:19 AM..
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:23 AM   #4
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I really, really want Mike Nolan to stick around here for a while.

Not to say that I agree with this secondary first idea, though. I think(Hope) that the secondary was the priority in FA and that the line will be tops in the draft.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arghemtee View Post
Have we learned nothing? You don't ****ing rebuild from the secondary to the defensive line.

That is like building a house and starting the roof before the foundation and the walls.
What would you have had them do? There was no talent available for a 3-4 defensive front this offseason. Those few names that would have been nice(Channing Crowder, Terrell Suggs) were quickly resigned. The only real option was Peppers who would cost a fortune and its completely unknown how he would play in a 3-4.

I commend Nolan for getting some quality in the defensive backfield at a reasonable price. No its not going to elevate our defense to the ranks of the elite but it will at least allow us to compete for average.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:28 AM   #6
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Quote:
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Have we learned nothing? You don't ****ing rebuild from the secondary to the defensive line.

That is like building a house and starting the roof before the foundation and the walls.
There wasn't anyone worth a **** for 3-4 line and the 3-4 LB pool was just as poor with nothing available outside and we got Andra Davis for about 1/5 of what Scott/Lewis received for the inside.

Canty was so well thought off as a 3-4 end that no 3-4 teams pursued him.

Olshansky had one visit in the whole of FA and was basically dumped by the Chargers due to poor performance over the last 2 seasons.

As for NT well in all honesty we probably got one of the better value deals ontaining Fields for $2.5m a year.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:32 AM   #7
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There wasn't anyone worth a **** for 3-4 line and the 3-4 LB pool was just as poor with nothing available outside and we got Andra Davis for about 1/5 of what Scott/Lewis received for the inside.

Canty was so well thought off as a 3-4 end that no 3-4 teams pursued him.

Olshansky had one visit in the whole of FA and was basically dumped by the Chargers due to poor performance over the last 2 seasons.

As for NT well in all honesty we probably got one of the better value deals ontaining Fields for $2.5m a year.
Exactly, and I'm usually out there pounding the table for us to sign a marquee guy... but who? There just weren't any. Even Chris Canty got paid a TON of moeny, though perhaps that's one guy you could make a case that we should have looked at.

The Pats had success grabbing guys like Seymore in the draft. I'm guessing that'll be our mission.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:45 AM   #8
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It's not abouut who was in Free Agency, the article states, "Revising the secondary is the primary goal".

It should be a goal, but THE primary goal?
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by arghemtee View Post
It's not abouut who was in Free Agency, the article states, "Revising the secondary is the primary goal".

It should be a goal, but THE primary goal?
D-line should have been the primary goal, imho. We also did need help at safety, but we still need a pass rush.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arghemtee View Post
It's not abouut who was in Free Agency, the article states, "Revising the secondary is the primary goal".

It should be a goal, but THE primary goal?
The writer was assessing the moves made in FA so far. Doesn't the article state the draft will focus on the other area's of need

One, the Broncos will use the draft to rebuild their defensive front
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arghemtee View Post
It's not abouut who was in Free Agency, the article states, "Revising the secondary is the primary goal".

It should be a goal, but THE primary goal?
The article is just an article.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:52 AM   #12
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D-line should have been the primary goal, imho. We also did need help at safety, but we still need a pass rush.
So you reckon Canty at $7m a year or Olshansky at $4.5m a year would've provided that

Obviously the best 3-4 tutor in the league (Nunnely) does not agree with you.

McDaniels/Nolan/Nunnely want fresh blood to work not some overrated vets who've done **** all to date in 3-4 defenses.

3-4 = system, 4-3 = players.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:52 AM   #13
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The writer was assessing the moves made in FA so far. Doesn't the article state the draft will focus on the other area's of need

One, the Broncos will use the draft to rebuild their defensive front
Won't it take a year or so for rookie D-linemen to develop, though? I don't know that we've ever had a rookie D-lineman who came in and made an immediate impact. Maybe Trevor Pryce....
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:54 AM   #14
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So you reckon Canty at $7m a year or Olshansky at $4.5m a year would've provided that

Obviously the best 3-4 tutor in the league (Nunnely) does not agree with you.

McDaniels/Nolan/Nunnely want fresh blood to work not some overrated vets who've done **** all to date in 3-4 defenses.

3-4 = system, 4-3 = players.
Rebuilding the D-line via the draft means that... assuming the draft picks pan out... that our line might be better in a year or so. Probably not this season though.
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:56 AM   #15
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Won't it take a year or so for rookie D-linemen to develop, though? I don't know that we've ever had a rookie D-lineman who came in and made an immediate impact. Maybe Trevor Pryce....
Off course it will Blue if not longer but obviously our front office have made the decision that there was no value out there in terms of front 7 apart from Fields and Davis. They did have some interest in Douglas/Wright/Jackson etc and Holliday has yet to sign anywhere so we may not be done yet in FA.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:06 AM   #16
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well goody. a good secondary doesn't help the front 7. doesn't last seasons game film show we need a ****ing pass rush and help in the front 7. if we have a good front 7 we can start Foxworth Paymah McCree and Manuel as our secondary and be fine.
it wouldn't matter if we had Champ, Nmamdi, Polomaulu, and Reed in our secondary if we still have complete crap in the front 7.

isn't this **** basic football knowledge? i swear i am getting to the point where i am wondering if McDaniels isn't just ****ing stupid but is in fact a retard.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:08 AM   #17
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Off course it will Blue if not longer but obviously our front office have made the decision that there was no value out there in terms of front 7 apart from Fields and Davis. They did have some interest in Douglas/Wright/Jackson etc and Holliday has yet to sign anywhere so we may not be done yet in FA.
OK, but I thought the whole concept was to win now.... which would have been more plausible with veteran linemen. Our defense will probably still be quite suspect this next season, then.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:27 AM   #18
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OK, but I thought the whole concept was to win now.... which would have been more plausible with veteran linemen. Our defense will probably still be quite suspect this next season, then.
that's what i thought too. that is why Bowlen was willing to open up the checkbook, and made the coaching change. Shanahan wasn't winning now, and Bowlen wanted a guy who would fix problems and win right away. but so far all we got this offseason are aged defensive veterans, backups and ST players and a Long snapper all while pissing off the guy who needs to pull this all together and lead them on the field.

i didn't think the team could look worse than it did after losing to the Chargers, but we look worse now than we did then.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:28 AM   #19
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that's what i thought too. that is why Bowlen was willing to open up the checkbook, and made the coaching change. Shanahan wasn't winning now, and Bowlen wanted a guy who would fix problems and win right away. but so far all we got this offseason are aged defensive veterans, backups and ST players and a Long snapper all while pissing off the guy who needs to pull this all together and lead them on the field.

i didn't think the team could look worse than it did after losing to the Chargers, but we look worse now than we did then.
Yes. Far worse.
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Old 03-15-2009, 04:48 AM   #20
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Yes. Far worse.
at least then we had the thought that our offense was a workhorse RB away from being elite, and our defense couldn't get any worse. now we have a what the hell is going to happen with our offense and our pro bowl QB, and still the question marks on the defense.

if i had known this is what would have gone down after the firing of Shanahan for him wanting to keep Slowik, i would rather have had to deal with Slowik another year than have all this current bull****.
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Old 03-15-2009, 05:54 AM   #21
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OK, but I thought the whole concept was to win now.... which would have been more plausible with veteran linemen. Our defense will probably still be quite suspect this next season, then.
So you'd rather the team paid Chris Canty $7M a year?

Weren't you b****ing about giving a LS $1M guaranteed over a 5 year deal? Doesn't giving a massive deal to a 5-tech who's job is to stuff gaps and nothing more do worse by the cap than that?

There is a reason Chris Canty visited two 4-3 teams and had no serious interest from 3-4 teams. No one wants to pay a 5-tech not named Richard Seymour that kind of money.

And we didn't kick the tires on Olshansky even though we have his former DL coach on the staff now. That should tell you something right off the bat there.

Other than that there weren't any good 5-techs left in FA. Vonnie Holliday has been cut, we had him in for a visit, but other than that who? A bunch of scrubs that have less upside than what we have in Thomas, Peterson, and Carlton Powell. So why pay a vet a bunch of money when there is no upgrade?

This FA class sucked for 3-4 front seven help and it was only made worse when every 3-4 coach who got fired was replaced with another 3-4 coach. Bart Scott got very overpaid and that opened the door for Ray Lewis to not go anywhere. The best NT to hit the market was Ronald Fields, a career backup, who we happened to sign FYI. The best MLB not in the twilight of his career (i.e. Brooking or Zach Thomas) that was legitimately available was Andra Davis, we signed him too.

And the notion that our problems last year stemmed from just the front seven is pure fantasy. Our corners were left nearly completely without safety help all last season. The best performance by a safety last year came from Josh Barrett, a 7th round pick who looked lost out there in half the games he played but still did better than the corpses of McCree and Manuel.

The article is entirely disingenuous in that the "$45M for three DBs" number is in total money, of which Dawkins will only see $9M over 2 years and both Hill and Goodman are guaranteed ~$2M each. They're cheap, proven above average veterans who fill the holes so we can look front seven with the majority of our draft picks. Thankfully this class has a nice dispersion of 5-techs, but it lacks even one true NT who can play from day one.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:25 AM   #22
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Since the entire D had to be pretty much rebuilt, and since there was pretty much zero DL talent available in FA, the FA moves were wise.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:55 AM   #23
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:59 AM   #24
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I love the approach that McDaniels and Nolan are taking on the defense,but if we don't have Cutler all this means nothing.That's why everybody is so focused on the Cutler Gate....
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Old 03-15-2009, 09:01 AM   #25
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I hate Mcdaniels
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