A day-by-day Broncos player breakdown is something we've been doing since our days at BroncoTalk nearly a decade ago. This year the tradition continues as we look at the Denver Broncos roster heading into the 2015 season in our 90-in-90 series.
Name: DeMarcus Ware
Position: Outside Linebacker
Height: 6'4" Weight: 258lbs
Age: 32 Experience: 11th
DeMarcus Ware is entering his 11th NFL season and his second with the Denver Broncos. Last season he totaled 40 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 interception. The 8x Pro Bowler will look to better those numbers in this upcoming season with the Broncos,
One reason to be optimistic about DeMarcus Ware this season is the move from Jack Del Rio's 4-3 defense to Wade Phillips 3-4 defense.
Ware previously played with Phillips in Dallas for four seasons and totaled 60.5 sacks. That averages out to be 15 sacks a season. So obviously Ware was excited when Head Coach Gary Kubiak added Phillips as the team's Defensive Coordinator.
"I know his defense already," Ware told reporters "I know how productive a lot of guys are in his defense. Everybody is going to be able to thrive to a new level because in this type of defense everybody has to know each other's job. You never know who could be dropping. You never know who's going to be rushing. At the end of the day, the offenses really have to be keying on who's bringing the pressure because this is a pressure defense."
It seemed like Ware started to wear down during last season. He started out the 2014 season on fire. He totaled 7 sacks through the team's first seven games, but only totaled 3 during the next ten games
Ware mentions that playing the 4-3 defense as a defensive end was rough on his body, and the switch to his more natural position(Outside linebacker) should help him this season.
"I'm really excited about it," Ware said. "It's a lot more easier on the body. Also you're only going to get a certain amount of plays because you've got five men on the line now. It really hones things down where in the meetings, instead of having to worry about what the offenses are doing, we're figuring out maybe what the tackles are doing, what the guards and centers, you can really hone in on the technique of the opposing offenses instead of worrying about what you have to do if they're changing things and you can be more aggressive."
Another reason to be optimistic about Ware is his health. This time last season his right elbow was in a sling after undergoing surgery for nerve damage. This is the first time in year's that Ware has had the entire offseason to workout and get into shape. Ware believes this will play dividends during the season.
"It was the first time in a long time -- maybe three or four years -- where I can work out in the offseason with having an elbow or a leg or whatever type of surgery -- shoulder -- where you have your full body back," Ware said, "and you can actually work out consistently throughout the whole offseason and now trying to carry it over to the season. I always say if you can consistently play and do things in the offseason, you can do the same thing during the season."
So the Broncos are getting a healthy and more aggressive DeMarcus Ware in 2015? Good luck offenses.
I have already mentioned a majority of the good about Ware, but let's go over it again.
First, he is playing in a familiar defense with a familiar coach that allows him to play edge rusher/outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Last season he wasn't a great fit to play a 4-3 defensive end, and it eventually wore him down as the season went on. So this switch should be beneficial for Ware.
Second, he had has an entire offseason to get into shape and work on his body. He hasn't been able to do that for the past three or four years.
"I'm doing things right now I could never do before," Ware said. "I'm benching 315 (pounds) fifteen times. Power cleaning 405 four or five times. I'm still vertical jumping 38 (inches). My body has matured."
Finally, I believe the addition of first-round pick Shane Ray could ultimately help Ware this season. Obviously the Broncos will be trying to get their explosive rookie on the field, and this probably means fewer snaps for Ware. This should help keep Ware's legs and body fresh for the second half of the season and eventually the postseason.
Will T.J. Ward truly shine in 2015?
•Mile High ReportT.J Ward wasn't quite the big impact player we had hoped for last year, but 2015 brings a brand new opportunity for our hard-hitting safety.
DeMarcus Ware will turn 33 years old on July 31st. Once any player hits the wrong side of 30 the question of how much longer do they have begins to be asked. This prompted the Denver Broncos to select outside linebacker Shane Ray with their first round pick during this past April's NFL Draft.
While I view Ray's addition as a positive for Ware this season, it's a negative for him going forward. The Broncos could save $10 million dollars by parting ways with Ware at season's end. Whether they decide to stand pat, ask for a pay cut or part ways is something that we'll tackle next offseason.
"I think when you think about a pass rusher, you always think about how many times you rush the passer. In Wade's defense, I know I'm going to get a lot of opportunities, especially with guys like Von (Miller). Having him now not dropping as much, he's going to be rushing the passer now on the strongside. It's just knowing now that you're not going to have a chipper the majority of the time. If they want to chip, you're going to bring other guys. That's going to help out with guys getting one-on-ones and really create some havoc out there."
DeMarcus Ware's status on the team isn't in danger. He's a team leader, a starting edge rusher/outside linebacker, and a mentor for Von Miller and Shane Ray.