No Von, No Problem

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Posted Wed, Oct 2, 2013

DOWN HE GOES: Denver Broncos defensive players Kevin Vickerson and Robert Ayers sacking Oakland Raiders Quarterback Terrelle Pryor back on Monday Night Football. [Photo Courtesy of CTPost.com]

DOWN HE GOES: Denver Broncos defensive players Kevin Vickerson and Robert Ayers sacking Oakland Raiders Quarterback Terrelle Pryor Sept. 23, on Monday Night Football. [Photo Courtesy of CTPost.com]

DENVER — With the outstanding 3-0 start to the season, all of the focus is of course on the high-powered Broncos offense lead by none other than Peyton Manning. But to the mantra that defense wins championships, the other side of the ball has played stellar too.

There’s no denying how high-octane No. 18 and his arsenal of pass-catchers have been this season. Through the first three games, Peyton & Co. have scored 127 points, 31 more than any other team in the NFL through three games, and second-most in NFL history. Peyton is also averaging four touchdowns a game, and has 12 touchdowns total so far this season — another NFL-history record breaker.

But the story isn’t just about the future Hall of Famer and the offense. Without Pro Bowler Von Miller, this defense has been playing with a fire in their bellies. Although the defense stands middle of the pack statistically, we’re seeing something that wasn’t there last year. That bully factor. Relaying something I heard on Cecil Lammey’s post-game show on 102.3 ESPN Sept. 30, this team doesn’t have much improved personnel, but a fire to their game that we didn’t necessarily see in games such as the playoff last to Baltimore last season.

There’s no doubting that the Broncos were the better team in the Divisional Round against Baltimore back in January. With more talent, there was something that Denver was missing that Baltimore wasn’t. The bully factor. Don’t think too much into the word “bully,” but more-so “swag.” To win in this league, especially when the games really count, your team needs swag. Especially on defense. And you could argue that this team lacked that intimidation-like factor last season.

Well no more. Even without their star-linebacker Von Miller, this team has that now. With all the new personnel such as Terrance Knighton, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Shaun Phillips, the story of the defense has been of a guy who’s been here through the thick and thin since 2008. Wesley Woodyard. You could argue that Woodyard has been one of the most improved players in the last two seasons. Woodyard, who came in as an undrafted free agent five years ago, was likely going to be a special teams player at most for the Broncos, but is now arguably the anchor of the Orange Crush defensive revival. Getting snaps at Middle Linebacker for the first time in his career, Woodyard has been playing in every game scenario for Denver, and has driven in this “bully factor” for a Broncos team that was missing it.

wesley woodyard

REVENGE TIME: Denver Broncos Linebacker Wesley Woodyard during the Divisional Playoff game last year against the Baltimore Ravens which ended in a loss. Woodyard, a sixth year player for Denver, is now the leader for the Broncos defense and wants to lead the team to a Championship. [Photo Courtesy of denversfinest.sportsblog.com]

What makes Woodyard’s and the rest of the front seven’s jobs easier? The play of the secondary thus far. Even without 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey, the back-four for Denver has turned into a strong suit. You could make the unpopular argument that this team is better without Champ. Yeah, I said it. The already mentioned Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a free-agent acquisition from Philadelphia, has turned into that shut down corner that Denver hasn’t had for years. Cornerbacks Chris Harris, Tony Carter, and even rookie corner Kavyon Webster have also played some solid shut down ball for the Broncos. You slip Champ into that line-up, and one of those corners who have played great would have to take a seat for the Broncos legend. I’m a firm believer in that you don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

However, the most improved area for the back four of Denver’s defense has been the play of the safeties. The most hated athlete in all of Denver, Rahim Moore, who allowed the 70-yard touchdown to Baltimore in the Divisional Round playoff loss, is arguably the most improved player on this Denver defense, quite possibly the entire team through training camp, preseason, and the first three regular season game. His safety partner, “The Duke” Ihenacho, wasn’t expected to win the starting role for Denver, but came out in training camp and caught the eyes of Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio and won his job from the get go. He’s also another one of those candidates for bringing “the bully factor” to the defense, running his mouth whenever he possibly can and letting opposing offenses know of his presence.

Running your mouth after plays, dishing out the hard hits, and letting the offense know that the defense is here to play, are types of things that Denver has been missing, and that is why the defensive side of ball is just as promising as the offense, even without Von Miller. Given that the offense is on pace to break multiple NFL-records, many still stand by the fact that defenses win championships. If this Orange Crush revival continues to play this type of ball, the chances of having the Lombardi Trophy in Denver for the third time in franchise history are that much better.

Anthony Rodriguez

About Anthony Rodriguez

I'm a sophomore here at Metro State. I'm the play-by-play announcer for Metro State Sports at KMet Radio in the Student Media Department, as well as production assistant. I host the KMet Sports Show from 2-4 p.m. on KMetRadio.org. In addition, I'm the administrator, editor, and publisher for LightningRodSports.com. In my past, I've also served as a producer for Mile High Sports Radio, and a former Sports Talk show host for the Lightning Rod Radio Network. Sports are my life, and I aim high as a sports broadcasting and journalism major.

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