T.J. Ward hit the NFL Network circuit on Tuesday, providing a lot of fabulous sound bites regarding the state of the Broncos' defense following free agency hits, the new NFL rule changes and his favorite Peyton Manning moment.
But the most priceless comment came when Maurice Jones Drew asked him whether the defense is impacted by "not having a quarterback" (because apparently the current guys listed don't count).
Speaking to Jones-Drew, Ward noted that whenever a team doesn't have a quarterback it impacts everyone, not just the offense.
"It definitely impacts us," Ward said. "But defensively, we have one mindset - no one scores. [If we] continue to do that, continue to prepare and dominate on the defensive side, then we'll be alright. But we gotta find someone back there."
Ward then added, "right now I think we've signed Mark Sanchez, and he...uh, he has some experience in this league."
Both Ward and Drew busted into riotous laughter before Ward composed himself to add, "nah, he's a'ight. He has experience in this league. Whatever Mr. Elway does upstairs, we have complete faith. Just looking forward to getting the next season going."
While Broncos PR probably cringed a little, most Broncos fans likely laughed in relief to know they weren't the only ones slightly (or more so) taken aback by the signing.
But we should give Ward a break after all because the team just came off a Super Bowl-winning season with a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback under center. And even though no one would argue Peyton Manning played anything close to his best ball this past season, he did provide a lot of leadership and was always the first to respect what the defense did every game - which Ward appreciated.
In fact, his favorite "Peyton Manning moment" was after the Super Bowl parade when a bunch of players went to lunch together - from both offense and defense - and they shared stories from the season that others wouldn't know because of playing in different units.
"It was just a real cool frienship teammate moment...I appreciate that from Peyton," Ward said. "We know the defense had a great season and you could just tell Peyton was giving us props for that."
"I'm happy for Brock. We gotta move on."— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 23, 2016
Earlier on the NFL Network, Ward had been asked if he were surprised Brock Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans and didn't stay in Denver.
"I was a little bit surprised Brock left," Ward said, adding that he's happy for Osweiler, "but we've got to move on. Mr. Elway, he's got a blueprint for that...we all have faith."
Life after winning the Super Bowl has been fun, Ward noted, but he's ready to start back to football.
"It feels like time to get back to work and work toward another one," he said. "We're the defending champs, but we've got a lot of work to do this offseason. The best team unit will repeat, and that's our goal."
It will be tough for the No. 1 defense to repeat - especially after losing some key players like Danny Trevathan, Malik Jackson and David Bruton, Jr. - but it will be time for some other guys to step up and fill those shoes, Ward added.
"They were great players, hard to replace," No. 43 said, adding that Trevathan and Jackson both "had motors who played with the passion and aggression that you just love to play with."
That aggressive play that helped make the Broncos the No. 1 defense this season could take a hit now that the NFL will eject players who get two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game.
T.J. Ward on automatic ejection rule: I think it's 'B.S'https://t.co/N69RnDan3T pic.twitter.com/kipJOom8fC— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) March 23, 2016
Ward was ejected last season against Kansas City when he hit Jeremy Maclin. And even though the new rule would require two such penalties to be kicked out of the game, Ward thinks it could affect aggressive play.
"I think [the ejection rule is] B.S. because a lot of those penalties are derived from playing hard...and [are] accidental," Ward told Tom Blair for NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill Q&A series.
Ward added that the rule is biased against a defense because of the numerous calls that become unsportsmanlike - facemask, horse collars, helmet-to-helmet hits.
"I mean, what do you got on offense? Chop block now? Hands to the face? ... Of course defensive players are going to be getting thrown out at a higher level than offensive players."
As long as the NFL is consistent in how it hands out the unsportsmanlike penalty, I think two before an ejection is generous. I mean, really, poking guys in the eye, punching them or diving into a player already down with your head is just asking for trouble - both injury and penalty-wise - and deserves to be taken out of the game. But if I were Ward and his fellow teammates on defense, I would be concerned about the consistency by refs of what should definitely be unsportsmanlike and could understand the "B.S." reaction to the ejection rule on that point. However, being aggressive doesn't mean playing to injure or getting in unnecessary fights and that's the impetus behind the rule - which I support.
When it comes to the NFL's new ban on the chop block to defensive linemen, Ward told NFL Network's Michael Robinson he likes the change; it will allow the defense to fire off the line quicker.
"Definitely going to help us out because you have situations where you're coming full speed and have running backs, guards just drop on you and it slows you down. But now, coming full speed, you're going to have to meet us helmet to helmet," Ward said, before correcting himself, "I mean shoulder-to-shoulder."