Derek Wolfe is a bad, bad dude.
That’s been the case since he came into the NFL from the University of Cincinnati in 2012. Wolfe has this innate desire to never be beat. He has this eternal hunger to succeed that is never satisfied. Even after Wolfe got a contract extension last December, that has not changed.
He wants to prove he is one of the best in the league and is just as good as, if not better, than the players who make more than he does.
Over the last 14 games for the Denver Broncos, Wolfe has shown he’s just that. In 11 of those games, Wolfe has recorded at least a half-sack (11.5 sacks total). Wolfe going full Wolfe Mode on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the most recent evidence. The Broncos defensive end led the team in total tackles (six), quarterback hits (five), sacks (2 ½) and tackles for loss (2 ½). Wolfe finished a half-sack shy of being the third-straight Denver defender to record three sacks in a game.
As I said, he went full Wolfe Mode. Hide your quarterbacks - that includes you the Atlanta Falcons - the big, bad, Wolfe is coming.
“I think Derek had a great offseason, number one,” Gary Kubiak told the media on Monday. “He’s in really good shape. He had some things going on with his family and he missed the last couple weeks of camp there. We held him out. He’s come back, and he’s been exceptional.
“I think his ability to stay on the field a lot of plays right now is panning out, playing well for Bill (Kollar). What did he have, two-and-a-half sacks (Sunday)? He actually was one of our defensive players of the game.”
Over the last nine games, all Broncos wins, the defense has terrorized quarterbacks. A lot of the credit for that has gone to Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and the pass rushers. The No Fly Zone has played a big part in that as well. What makes this defense so good is they do it all.
Don’t forget about the defensive line led by Wolfe. Those stats mentioned earlier show he’s a huge part of quarterbacks being so fearful of this defense. What makes Wolfe so valuable is he wreaks havoc in the passing and running game. That means he takes blockers away from the other playmakers on the defense.
“Wolfe makes it easier for sure,” Shane Ray said on Monday. “Just the presence that he has in the middle, pushing the pocket, beating his guys, opens up stuff for us. Him playing like that, it’s just going to keep making us better as a defense.”
There was no question Wolfe had the talent and work ethic to play in the NFL. The key was to get the mental part down, as well as technique and skill moves. Wolfe had to keep his focus on the game.
Enter Kollar, who more than anyone, has helped Wolfe play the best football of his life. According to The Denver Post, in the midst of his four-game suspension last season, Wolfe called Kollar with a question: How can I get better? Kollar responded, per The Post: Get better at attacking the quarterback.
The stories of Wolfe’s work ethic are legendary at this point, so one can imagine how he approached this challenge. Over those last 14 games, the results speak for themselves.
“(Wolfe’s) the middle of our ‘D’, him and ‘Sly’ (Sylvester Williams), they control the middle of our ‘D’ and it starts with those guys,” Aqib Talib said on Monday. “If we’re going to stop the run, it’s going to start with those guys. They’re the front line of our defense; we don’t talk about them enough.”
After going full Wolfe Mode on Sunday against the Bucs, Matt Ryan is next on the list.
At this point, opposing teams would be wise to hide their quarterbacks. The big, bad Wolfe is on the hunt and he wants to eat.