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McDaniels’ 20 Defensive Puzzle Pieces

October 14, 2009

Building a defense, after a performance like 2008, takes a lot of little puzzle pieces. Who would believe that after last years defenses awful performance, we would end up becoming one of the best defenses in the league? In my opinion it took 20 puzzle pieces to put this defense together.

Early in the year when the Broncos hired Josh McDaniels, they handed him a well established offense but a defense that needed work and those 20 pieces, we are finally starting to see. McDaniels started to build the defense with three key pieces already on the team. The 3, Bailey, D.J. Williams, and Elvis Dumervil. Here’s the 20 pieces, 17 of which are new:

1) Mike Nolan: McDaniels hired a new Defensive Coordinator who has revamped the defense and given it more heart and love for the game. It’s safe to say his ‘D’ is good. The Broncos have 16 sacks, and 6 interceptions. It has been a fantastic start to his career in Denver.

2) Brian Dawkins: Coach signed free agent Dawkins to play safety. But he’s also played leader of the defense as well. Just watching them play on defense you can feel Dawkins presence. Brian Dawkins has 34 tackles and has recovered a fumble, and puts fear in offensive players.

3) D.J. Williams: Williams has been underrated since he was a rookie, so I’m giving him some love. He is fantastic. He can light up the field like no one on the team. He has 40 tackles, 1 sack, and a forced fumble. D.J. is a big part of our defense, he is very good at stopping the run, and can also help in pass coverage.

gangtackle4) Elvis Dumervil: This one is an obvious pick, with 18 tackles, 8 sacks, and a forced fumble this guy is a very key piece to our defense. He is the leader of our pass rush.

5) Champ Bailey. Although some people may not think so, Champ has still got it. He has 23 tackles and an interception. What amazes me is his run stopping ability. He can shed blocks and make a play on a run, or can drop i coverage and force a coverage sack or get an interception. (Tony Romo chose sack and interception.)

6) Andra Davis: Andra is an unsung Broncos stud this season. He’s got 33 tackles, and one sack. He really has stepped up to his role in the 3-4 defense.

7) Mario Haggan: Haggan is a surprise player (at least to me) who has really helped out on ‘D” with 16 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

8 ) Darrell Reid: Darrell Reid is a great player. It’s just that simple. He does not have glaring stats, but because of him our linebackers make plays, and Elvis cranks up sacks. Reid does have 7 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles.

9) Wesley Woodyard: Coming off a great rookie season Woodyard continues to have success on special teams and defense. He has 17 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.

10) Renaldo Hill: Hill kind of goes unnoticed, but let me tell you, the offense notices him. I notice his 20 tackles, 1 sack, one forced fumble, and one interception. He gets around, and Nolan uses him well.


11) Vonnie Holliday: Simply put, he is talented and great pick up from the Dolphins. He goes in on passing downs, and has produced with 7 tackles, a forced fumble and 2 sacks.

12) Kenny Peterson: Peterson is a good pass rusher, and opens things up for Elvis, he also helps with the run, getting 15 tackles.

13) Andre’ Goodman: Goodman has been the most underrated off-season pick up of the off-season. He is playing very well in coverage and has managed to rack up 7 tackles, and 1 interception when he played Oakland.

14 & 15) Ryan McBean and Ronald Fields both have done about the same, helping out on ‘D’ with 8 tackles a piece.

16) Darcel McBath: He goes unnoticed, and doesn’t get a ton of playing time, but he does have 7 tackles and an interception. He seems on track for having a good career

17) Alphonso Smith: was a second round pick who in the first few games has just flown across the field. I love what he brings to the team.

18) 3-4: The 3-4 Defense is the final and biggest part of this puzzle. If it was not for this part of the puzzle, none of the others would fall into place. While a lot of this can be credited to Mike Nolan bringing it, it deserves special recognition.


Those are 18 pieces if you can count. The problem is our defense also has 2 pieces that aren’t fitting the puzzle. Robert Ayers and Marcus Thomas, combined only have 9 tackles. Thomas is not starting, and is not causing much havoc when he plays. Ayers is situational and getting more work each week but still hasn’t been too special. It is too soon to say Robert Ayers is a bust, but I fear he could become one.

Nonetheless, those 20 pieces have really come together the last five weeks, with only 8.6 points a game! They are ranked first in points allowed, second in yards (252.8 per game), 5th in pass yards (171.8 per game), and 6th in rush yards (81.0 per game). Things have really worked out good for our 3-4, and I look forward to its future success.

  1. October 14, 2009 3:49 PM

    How can you make this list and even show his picture but not talk about Jack Williams who has kept alphonso smith from stealing his job. maybe you didnt notice him tearing it up against the patriots or something. i dunno man.

  2. Jon Krause permalink
    October 15, 2009 5:16 AM

    Kdeazy, I did! I had him tied with Alphonso, but when I submitted it, Garrett edited it! so yell @ Mr. Barnes! 😛

    • October 15, 2009 5:19 AM

      i took him out in exchange of the 3-4 defense. but i added the picture hehe.

  3. October 15, 2009 11:52 AM

    we r lucky that rook didnt mess up that punt return where he and eddie both were going for it in that new england game

    • October 15, 2009 3:19 PM

      yeah i know!

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