Good morning, Broncos Country!
The speculation has run rampant since the start of free agency.
No, this has nothing to do with the Denver Broncos quarterback situation. I know, right? There's only so many rumors and reports one can take. Hopefully this all ends come Thursday with the first day of the NFL Draft.
This particular rumor is the Broncos defense won't be as good in 2016. That it will decline in production and results.
"The loss of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan is too much," some have said.
DeMarcus Ware doesn't agree with that assessment; especially when it comes to the pass rush and the continued development of Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray.
"I told them you can use your athleticism to a certain point, but when you can think about the mental aspects of the game - the fundamentals, the techniques - that's what is going to get you over the top," Ware told the media on Monday. "How consistent can you be throughout a whole game instead of a play here or a play there? When it comes to crunch time, are you going to show up? I think that's how those guys will mature this year, and they have another whole year with me and Von (Miller) and all of us together. I think it's going to be a better year than we had last year."
If Barrett and Ray make those strides and get more consistent, that lessens the need for Ware to stay on the field. When he's fresh, he showed what he can do in the playoffs. In those three games, Ware recorded 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. And that's only the start. Ware, Miller and the pass rush in the playoffs was unrelenting. In the AFC Championship Game against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Ware had 10 total pressures and six quarterback hits.
That doesn't mean Ware has a lesser role on the defense, it just means Wade Phillips uses him in situations that play off Ware's strengths and keeps him fresh. Ware missed five games last season due to various injuries.
"I don't think my role would be different," Ware said. "My role has always been sacking the quarterback. It's going to stay the same. Coaches are staying the same, the trainers are the same, the strength guys are the same, so I don't think my role is going to change..
"OK, instead of doing 50 plays in OTAs, give him 30. This is my 12th year now and it's not like I don't know what do, especially in Wade's defense. Just protecting your body and making sure you're ready for the opportunity to come during the season."
What won't change is the leadership Ware brings to the Broncos' locker room. With Peyton Manning retired, it was crucial for John Elway to get Ware back. Perhaps more than what he's brought on the field, what he's done as a leader for Denver has been invaluable. As we've seen with Miller and the trip with Demaryius Thomas to South Africa after the Super Bowl win.
"I think it was important for me to stay because when you sort of have changes in your career and then all of a sudden in your first year you get nominated as a captain, your second year you get nominated as a captain, you start being that leader in the locker room," Ware said. "That goes a long way in keeping everything in line, motivating guys in practice if it's the little small things on the field, but experience goes a long way. I always say don't put the cart before the bull."
There's also been speculation Miller may lose a step since he's missing the start of the offseason workout program, and could miss all of it until training camp ... unless a contract is agreed to before then.
"I was texting him this morning asking him what he's doing," Ware said. "He is doing what he needs to do. I'm not really concerned about that. I know he wants to be a Denver Bronco and he's doing what he needs to do to take care of himself this offseason. We'll welcome him back with open arms when he comes back."
As for the rumors the defense could or will see a decline in 2016 after a magical ride to Super Bowl 50, Ware's not buying. He won't let his teammates do so either.
"(Elway) knows I'm not here for money," Ware said. "I'm here to win championships. I'm here to go over and beyond and build a legacy for the Denver Broncos. I think this was a smart move by everybody and I'm glad I'm still able to be here playing."
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