When the season started for the Denver Broncos; there was a lot of talk about how it was going to take the offense time to develop. They were adding one of the best quarterbacks of all-time in Peyton Manning who was coming off of a neck injury. They were learning a new offense and they were all learning how to play with each other. We’ve all seen the results by now, the Broncos are scoring 30+ points a game and Manning is a front runner for the MVP.
What no one talked about and we should have is this; the Broncos defense was going through just as many changes as the offense but they were not given the slack that the offense was. Jack Del Rio brought in a completely different defense that the Broncos have never seen before in their history. Del Rio uses multiple formations including one with everyone standing up ready to rush the passer and another one that features seven defensive backs. Those are two defenses that you won’t see any other team run, or at least you won’t see them run on a regular basis like they are in Denver.
The style of defense that the Broncos are running takes time to master, and that accounts for a good deal of their struggles early. It’s no coincidence that the defense started to play well at roughly the same time as the offense. Early in the season, the Broncos were playing some basic schemes to get those down and looked awful at times. As the players got more comfortable with the defense, Del Rio started adding his wrinkles and that’s when the light seemed to go on
They are still not a great defense but they are a top ten unit and when Manning is your quarterback, a top ten defense is plenty good enough. Unlike most Broncos’ defenses in the past ten seasons, this year’s group is getting better and Del Rio is only going to add more formations and blitzes.
In retrospect, we should have been just as patient with the defense as we were with the offense. The learning curve for Champ Bailey, Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and others was just as steep as it was for those on the offensive side of the ball. In the end it is safe to say that Manning was obviously the best move of the off-season, but the hiring of Del Rio is a close second. The Denver Broncos are reaping the benefits of both.
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