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Broncos' legend Tom Jackson says 2015 defense 'more impressive' than his Orange Crush

And he should know.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You have to know this Broncos defense is something special when former linebacker and Ring-of-Fame inductee Tom Jackson is calling it better than his own iconic Orange Crush D.

"I'm more impressed with them than I was with that Orange Crush of the past because defense has been made so difficult now," the three-time Pro-Bowler and current ESPN analyst told the Denver Post.

"We had the ability to jam all over the field, and it really didn't matter how you hit somebody — you didn't have to be careful about it, you didn't have to think about contact," Jackson added. "But the rules being what they are now, it's so much harder to be really good defensively. So it makes what they're accomplishing, to me, even more impressive."

That's saying a lot, coming from a guy responsible for a fumble recovery and two interceptions during the 1977 divisional playoff win over the Steelers in 1977, the pinnacle season for the Orange Crush (*editor's note: for the best story ever about this game, be sure to read the full Q&A with TJ!)

I'm more impressed with them than I was with that Orange Crush of the past because defense has been made so difficult now. ...I can tell you how much I'm enjoying watching them play.  -Tom Jackson, Broncos' linebacker 1973-1986.

Jackson talked about the demeanor of his defensive coordinator, Joe Collier, and how he suspects Wade Phillips acts in similar fashion - with intelligence and respect.

"As a group, defensively, you're usually a reflection of your coordinator," Jackson said. "So whatever it is that Wade brings, it's a passion, and he gets his guys to play with it."

He also talked about the defense stealing not only the spotlight from Peyton Manning but the onus in the wins and losses columns every single Sunday - and that that is a good thing.

"I don't think it can be overstated, the mindset in going out and believing that it is your responsibility to win the game is the way they're playing," Jackson said, adding that this defense believes it's in the "starring role" for this team. "...It's fun from a defensive perspective. I can't tell them how much I'm enjoying watching them play."

Jackson isn't the only member of a great defense who believes this unit is worthy of that heralded name.

Still, the Orange Crush was special because it exercised exceeding superiority to peer defenses in that time period. The 2015 Broncos defense can only achieve that same status if it excels in this day and age, compared to every other team out there.

So far, so good ... despite a few doubters (*cough Ray Lewis cough), but we don't care about them anyway.

Chris Harris Jr. tweet response Ray Lewis defense