Around this time last year, I brought up my concerns about the lack of identity on the defense. I even submitted a poll to find out if I was alone in my concerns and about 55% generally agreed with my sentiment about this issue. In fact, it has been several years since I've felt this defense has had an identity. When Al Wilson's career ended abruptly, the void he left was quite massive. The proof is in how the defensive unit utterly collapsed within just a few years of his retirement.
Today, I finally feel as if the void is beginning to close. The tandem of Von Doom appears to be one that may just wreak havoc upon opposing quarterbacks, in fact, I'd like to start calling them "The Show". Call it a vain attempt to create one of those self fulfilling prophecies - if I believe in it hard enough it will come true. The Rams had The Greatest Show on Turf, Deion Sanders was Primetime and the Steelers still have their Curtain. When Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil take the field, I am going to expect to see not just a good pass rush, but a spectacle. A Show.
One thing is absolutely certain to me, this defense just has a different feel to it. I felt strongly about aborting the 3-4 experiment after witnessing the catastrophe that was last year's effort unfold and I am glad this team has done just that. In fact, I am starting to believe that picking up the Denver Broncos defense/special teams unit may be the best fantasy football draft strategy any of you may make, since sacks and turnovers are worth far more than points and yards given up.
The Orton/Tebow thing can take a back seat now, since this team isn't going to be willed to victories and the playoffs on either of their arms this season, so if this team has any aspirations for the playoffs, it must come from the defense. There are still so many unknowns with this unit, but as I compare the roster from the top down all I see is proven talent. No over the hill has been defensive linemen have been signed. Youth and talent fill out the roster completely on the defensive side of the ball...it's exciting to see on paper.
Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey continue to hold the fort down on the back end, but I expect to see tons of action from all the young guns as well. This defensive unit feels like it could create a lot of turnovers, even if it gives a big play now and then.
Not just that, I just don't see many guys on the first two team units that make me instantly think "scrub". The defensive roster finally has depth. The second unit stopped Kyle Orton cold, twice. They did it without much of a pass rush, which means those youngsters were able to maintain discipline and keep the first team unit out of the end zone all day. That was the most encouraging part of the scrimmage that I learned. The Broncos offensive line gave Orton plenty of time to make a play and the backups playing defense denied him. That is awesome.
Of course, the first team defense got all the internet buzz because of what they did to Tim Tebow, but offensive line depth is a concern and the scrimmage only confirmed that in my mind. We'll find out Thursday if the first team unit has some teeth to it when the pass rush isn't quite there. I suspect it will. There are just too many good players on that side of the ball, which means there will be plenty of fresh bodies on the field late in games.
Still, the linchpin of this defense, is Von Doom. "The Show". The terror those two could potentially create is incredible and I can't wait to see it! On the other side of the field, DJ Williams could also capitalize on that show when offenses try to compensate to cover the Von Doom, maybe even Robert Ayers can get in on the action too.
Most importantly, the defensive tackle position suddenly appears to be stout. Marcus Thomas has finally started to adjust to the pro game, Ty Warren is a proven veteran and The somewhat Big Vick seems to really enjoy batting down passes.
This leads me to my final thought. The Plan. EFX had a plan in place all along and it did not include over drafting on a defensive tackle back in April. Why? Time. How many defensive tackles become impact players in their first season as a professional? The answer is very few. EFX didn't have the time to develop a rookie to start, so they went with a player that would bring an immediate impact to the team. Von Miller. Von Doom. The Show is about to begin...