Before the season, Head Coach Josh McDaniels and the coaching staff had a decision to make. Should the Broncos enter the season a 4-3 team, like they had been in 2008 and for many years before that, or make a switch to the 3-4 defense.
The way McDaniels saw it, the choice was simple. The Broncos didn’t have the pieces for a successful 4-3 defense this season.
“The way that they had played (in 2008), the style and the guys, we just felt like it wasn’t like we had a solid 4-3 defensive scheme in terms of our personnel to fit that scheme,” McDaniels said. “In other words, why take a year and (transition gradually) when it really wasn’t in place to begin with?”
So the transition began immediately, and players from Andra Davis to Robert Ayers to Vonnie Holliday were brought in for the way they fit the new 3-4 scheme.
The early verdict? The choice has paid off in spades.
Everyone, including McDaniels, expected there to be a learning curve in the transition, and players are quick to point out that they haven’t been perfect. But after two games, the defense has allowed just one touchdown and only 13 points. Opponents have averaged just 70 yards on the ground and less than 185 through the air. The club has snagged three interceptions, notched seven sacks, caused three fumbles and recovered two.
Not too shabby for a group that wasn’t getting much respect heading into the season. The unit still doesn’t get much national attention, and that might just be the way the players like it, and what makes them successful.
“I just think we’ve got a good group of guys in this locker room on that defense,” Holliday said. “Guys that are seriously in their playbooks, know where they’re supposed to be, dependable if you will. Guys that aren’t selfish. Guys that just do their job. Everybody doesn’t get the glory, like on that defensive line, there’s no write-ups today about how Ronald Fields is playing or how Kenny Peterson played or even (Ryan) McBean played yesterday. But guys are selfless and that’s what it’s all about. There are going to be those games where you have an opportunity to make a play, you make it.”
But even with the defense playing as well as it has, Holliday said the unit and the team as a whole isn’t prepared to get a big head.
He and the rest of the veterans along with the coaching staff are there to remind players that while they’re playing well, there have only been two games. There’s still a long way to go for the Broncos to get to where they want to be at the end of the season.
“Nobody can crown us anything right now except that we’re 2-0,” he said. “It’s still early in the season. We have to be consistent and go out week in and week out and get it done. Just one game at a time, just chip away at it. Before you know it, you see yourself in December and things could be looking pretty good.”
-Gray Caldwell, DenverBroncos.com