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Horse Tracks: Phillips wants Broncos D to be the best

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Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator wants the Broncos defense to be the league's best in 2016, but knows they still have a lot of work to do to meet that goal.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos fielded one of the best defenses the league has ever seen last season.  Unquestionably, Denver's vaunted defense was the primary reason they were able to secure their third world championship last season.

The unit dominated on the gridiron and wreaked havoc on opposing offenses.  Their impeccable efforts brought them top slot ranking in numerous categories and their style play brought the Orange Crush back to Denver.

With a new season comes new changes for a defense that lost a handful of key contributors to free agency, but the true leader of the defense Wade Phillips remains with the team and once again has set lofty expectations for his ferocious unit.

"We want them to be the best. That’s what our goals were last year. I said when we started out, in OTAs we wanted to be in the top five," said Phillips.  "When we got to the regular season, we set our goals higher. We said that we wanted to be the best in the league. If you attain that, you just try to repeat. That’s what their goals were, to be really good. That’s what they’ll continue to be."

If the Broncos defense wants to be as good as last year, new additions from free agency and the draft will have to step up their game to fill the void of players like Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan who were integral to their success in 2015.  Phillips knows how good those two were, especially in the post-season, but is confident in the group of players he has this season and believes their production can be replaced.

"You hope it’s not a big fall out. Both of them are good players, obviously, but we have good players that are actually playing really well," remarked Phillips in reference to Jackson and Trevathan.

"[ILB] Todd Davis looks really good out there and [ILB] Corey Nelson also. Those two guys are good football players also so we’re glad that we have them. D-Line wise, Vance has really looked good. We feel good about where we are."

Phillips went on to mention outside linebacker Shane Ray and Justin Simmons as two young players who look poised to play an important role in the defensive plans this season.

"He came back with a tremendous attitude and he’s worked hard at it," stated Philips in reference to Ray. "He’s got ability and we just have to keep working. He’s getting a lot of reps because Von hadn’t been out there very much and [OLB] DeMarcus [Ware] hasn’t been out there so he’s gotten the opportunity."

The rookie safety from Boston College also drew praise from Phillips, who highlighted his instincts and football intelligence.

"He’s real smart. He’s smart and instinctive, and that’s what you like. He’s around the ball the ball a lot. He’s kind of slight-built. He’s just 200 pounds so we’ll see when he gets live tackling, but I think he’s a good tackler."

With Phillips leading the way for the Broncos defense, you know that they are in good hands and will be a strong unit in 2016.  But just how good will they be?  Can they be better than last year?  Time will tell, but one thing is certain:  they have all the confidence in the world as a group to be able to replicate last years' success and are determined at surpassing it.

As always, thank you for reading and here are today's Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

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