Good morning, Broncos Country!
While so many are casting shade toward Dove Valley and laying bets that the NFL's best defense last season cannot possibly do it again, two members of that defense are putting the league on notice:
The Broncos defense will not just be good again; it will be better.
Same team. Same coaches. Better communication. Fewer mistakes.
Oh, and more interceptions. A lot more interceptions. Last year the Broncos had just 14 interceptions, compared to Carolina's 24 and Kansas City's 22 (the league's leaders in getting INTs).
"Creating more interceptions. That's the key," said veteran safety Darian Stewart who had one interception last season. "We did a lot of great things last year, but I think as a secondary we definitely want to lead the league in interceptions."
Third-year cornerback Bradley Roby reported that the league's No. 1 defense has already been picking apart last season's game film to find major areas of improvement.
"We just watched film 10 minutes ago of mistakes we were making in games that made it closer than it should've been," Roby said, adding the defense is "very confident" it can improve, especially after a second season with these coaches and scheme. "We'll be a lot better this year."
Stewart was more direct.
"It's going to be hell for teams this year," he said.
Normally all this talk could easily be written off as just more preseason promises - hollow clichés that no one will remember five months from now anyway.
But just like the media should know better about this Broncos team in 2016, we should know better about this defense.
Roby absolutely believes the Broncos can win it all again because - as he said while shrugging his shoulders - "defense wins championships."
Ergo, if B (Broncos' defense in 2016) is better than A (Awesome Broncos defense of 2015) - which conquered C (championship) - then quite obviously, B > C again.
Having watched the Broncos in action at the Super Bowl after listening to them say over and over and over again that they knew they could win the game, it's easy to see these are not hollow preseason clichés.
The Broncos really are just confident.
"From Day 1, we came in with the mindset of repeating. That's just been the mission each year," Stewart said this week. "It's going to be a great year."
Roby noted communication errors specifically as contributing to the defense giving up some big plays. The Broncos found themselves pushed back by an offense usually from not communicating right rather than getting fooled by a better team.
Next season's improved execution of Wade Phillips' defensive scheme should eliminate many of those big plays by opposing offenses.
"We played well last year and definitely were one of the best ever," Roby noted, "but there is definitely another level from this defense for sure."
Stewart considers part of that "other level" to be the depth the Broncos now have in the secondary with two top-notch safeties added in the draft.
"I think we needed the depth. That's what we lacked last year," Stewart said, adding that rookie safeties Justin Simmons and Will Parks don't say too much, but they keep their heads down and get to work. "They just come in and work. ...They're going to be helpful for us."
Roby noted that maintaining motivation for the championship eight months from now can be tough, but champions find a way, and the Broncos have many. One of them from Roby is, "I hate losing."
"We're talking about it every day. Doing it again," Roby added. "We have a lot of vets and a lot of leadership. We're kind of all on the same page and we're all kind of hungry."
And what he means by that is that everyone on the team hates losing.
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