Wesley Woodyard was just happy to see a familiar face in the defensive coordinator’s office when he returned for workouts this week.
“Huge,” he said Wednesday. “I mean, today, as players we go over and talk about things that we already knew from last year, so it’s a huge help that we come in with the same defensive system two years into it, and not really having to worry about learning all new things, all new coaches, all new schemes.”
Jack Del Rio’s return was a relief to many Broncos — chief among them Woodyard and cornerback Champ Bailey, the two longest tenured defensive players on the roster. For Bailey, this will be just the third time in his 15-year career that he’ll work under the same coordinator as he did the previous year. But at least Bailey knew what it was like to have continuity. Woodyard never did.
But Bailey and Woodyard learned how to adjust and endure. It can be harder for the younger players, who just figured out one system before being plunged into another, which hindered their progress.
“Well, anytime you get two years in a row with the same defense, that’s a blessing,” said Derek Wolfe, who began his first full NFL offseason this week. “It only happened to me once in college and I had three different defenses in college.”
The lack of continuity at defensive coordinator in recent years was an easily-cited reason whenever struggles hit — and a justifiable one. The Broncos’ defense finished in the bottom half of the league four times between 2007-11 and dead last in 2010, and constant change had much to do with that.
Now, there’s no excuse.
“A little more familiarity going on around here,” Woodyard said. “But right now, we just have to push ourselves and do better things.”