In 2013, the Denver Broncos fielded the best offense in the world.
In free agency, Denver made three big splashes on the defensive side of the ball, signing hard-hitting safety T.J. Ward, physical cornerback Aqib Talib, and quarterback-hunting defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Going into the draft, Denver's defense looks nasty on paper.
"I think it's an investment in brutal nasty," Ware told the Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman last month.
"(In the Super Bowl), Denver had a guy like Peyton Manning who can score, but you see how defenses can really create havoc and stop guys from doing what they do best. So they turned around and said, 'Let's go get our defense right.'"
So far so good.
Denver's defensive line is young and talented. On paper, their potential is off the charts.
#Broncos D-Line looks just NASty on paper. Deep & rich with young talent. Wolfe, 24, Malik Jax, 24, Quant Smith, 24, Sly Will, 25, Von, 25.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 16, 2014
In addition to the young talents including Derek Wolfe and Sylvester Williams, Denver's defensive line will also see veterans Terrance Knighton and Kevin Vickerson return. Ware will also be added to the mix.
The next level—the linebackers—are currently led by Von Miller, Nate Irving, and Danny Trevathan. The final level of the defense—the secondary—is where Denver appears the most improved.
At cornerback, Chris Harris Jr. and Talib will likely be the bookends with Kayvon Webster and Tony Carter providing depth. Denver's safeties include Ward, Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter, and Duke Ihenacho.
A potential combination of Ward and Moore looks great, again, on paper.
Denver's job now—after adding several more defensive pieces in the draft—will be turning their "nasty" paper defense into an on-field menace. Ward seems to believe the team is headed in the right direction.
"I know I can speak for everybody on the defensive side of the ball when I say we're going to make a statement from point go, from the first preseason game," Ward told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, after a workout at EXOS training center.
According to Ward, team's will be afraid of much more than just Denver's offense in 2014.
"From then on, teams can know what they're up against and know what to expect week-in and week-out. They don't have to just worry about the offense no more."
Ward followed that up with a blockbuster quote:
"We're sending a message right now that we're coming in not only trying to be one of the top offenses in the league, but one of the top defenses in the world and get that Super Bowl ring."
The team will start working together as a unit starting Monday when the team begins their offseason workout program. From there, the team will continue working throughout the summer and training camp up until preseason and ultimately, the regular season.
"As good as the Broncos offense was last year, you see what happens when you get put up against a stout defense and an offense that can pretty much manage and make some plays here and there."
Denver's already formidable offense can do much more than "make some players here and there." Their record-setting offense will be paired up with a nastier defensive unit this fall.
That can only mean trouble for the rest of the NFL.