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Broncos D gets back to No. 1 after playing ‘clean football’

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The Afternoon Drive talks with Brandon Marshall and also discusses the defense’s role in the offseason rebuild.

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Speaking to the guys at Afternoon Drive, Brandon Marshall agreed that he came out and played with his “hair on fire” Sunday afternoon.

“I did some self study this week to see how I could improve my game,” Marshall said. “I felt like haven’t been as aggressive this year in coverage and the run game. Decided to shoot my shot more this game; take more chances...it obviously paid off.”

The biggest difference on Sunday was the turnover differential - the defense caused two; the offense gave up none.

“It just started from the first play,” Marshall noted. “It’s the first shutout in 12 years. We played a clean brand of football - which is Bronco football. I definitely believe if don’t beat ourselves, we can beat anybody in the league.”

Such a strong performance by the defense - which is back to being ranked No. 1 overall based on yards allowed per game - makes it easy to think this Broncos team doesn’t need a full rebuild to be good again - at least on defense.

Marshall obviously doesn’t think so either.

“This is a great team, great organization. It would be tough to be part of a rebuild,” Marshall noted, adding however that it will be the “big picture” - inconsistent play and a losing record - that the front office will consider. “We just wanted to win one for ourselves. We don’t want the whole team to blow up. It’s imperative we win these next three games for everyone to still be here.”

Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro had several interesting discussions related to the defense, including the fact that it is still a really good unit.

So does it need to be “blown up” too to help fix this team? No.

“It was the offense that dragged down the defense this year - and somewhat last year as well,” Shapiro said. “This defense is still really, really good. ...They were put in a bad, bad situations by this offense game in and game out, and when one side is that bad, it eventually drags down the other side. And that’s what the offense did.”

Statistically, the hosts noted, the Broncos defense is actually slightly better this season than during the Super Bowl season - allowing an average of 280 yards a game this year compared to 283 in 2015.

“It was still a very good defense put in very bad situations by the offense,” Shapiro reiterated. “It drives me crazy when people say the defense gave up this year. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.”

In fact, a few more stats from Andrew Mason on denverbroncos.com give even more perspective to what yesterday’s shutout over the Jets means about this 2017 defense:

First shutout in 12 years, something Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods has now done that the seven previous DCs have not.

It was the first time since Sept. 19, 2010, that a team held an opponent to fewer than two passing first downs in a game, according to pro-football-reference.com.

It was the first time in 46 years -- since a 27-0 win at Cleveland on Oct. 24, 1971 -- that the Broncos shut out an opponent while holding them to 100 or fewer yards.

Question to discuss:

So assuming we can all agree it was the offense that brought down this team most weeks - and that the defensive unit does not need the overhaul the offense does - how would you keep the Broncos’ D the same or change it up for next season?