Denver defense back on track
By Woody Paige
The Denver Post Posted: 03/10/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
(Denver Post file photo)
The Oh'Jays - Justin, Jarvis and Jamal - have ridden the Love Train into Denver.
The Broncos' reconstruction period continues to build momentum and build a contemporary team.
In one year, from March to March, Josh McDaniels has created a new regeneration at Dove Valley.
These are not your Shanahan's Broncos.
With the addition of Justin Bannan, Jarvis Green and Jamal Williams - 18 feet, 9 inches high and 880 pounds wide - the Broncos have a fresh starting defensive line.
Overall, the McDee-Fence has signed 17 free agents, drafted four players and changed three others to different positions.
The offense isn't so far behind. At least five, maybe more, of its 2010 starters will be McDaniels' Men.
And the college draft is still six weeks away.
It was pointed out here on Monday that the Broncos hadn't made much of a splash in the first few days of free agency. But McD and the X Man - general manager Brian Xanders - did a belly-buster on Tuesday, luring former Chargers nose tackle Williams and former Patriots defensive end Green to town to team with Bannan.
What's not to like - especially when starters Ryan McBean, Kenny Peterson and Ronnie Fields, who wore down at last season's end, become alternate starters, and Marcus Thomas could be the seventh defensive end?
The potential linebacking corps of D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil, Mario Haggan and second-year outsider Robert Ayers - backed by Wesley Woodyard, Mario Haggan, Andra Davis, Darrell Reid and Spencer Larsen - will be helped considerably by a line that can stop the run.
The defensive backfield was shored up last season by free agents Brian Dawkins, Renaldo Hill and Andre Goodman, with kids Alphonso Smith, David Bruton, Darcel McBath and surprise Tony Carter. Of course, there is Champ.
New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who is not a game-show host, has to be drooling. He'll begin with the strongest defense in the division, one of the staunchest in the conference. The Broncos actually didn't get bigger on the line, but they did get better. There is a sign of hope.
For a short while it seemed as if some free agents didn't care for Denver - what was their problem? - but the Broncos caught the wave with Williams and Green. Did Josh take them to John Elway's and Mike Shanahan's restaurants?
Green was called New England's "Super Sub," but he could be a "Super Starter" at end for the Broncos as McDaniels reaches into his past again. Green's a find. Williams, who was a three-time Pro Bowler, could be a treasure. He was injured in the first game last year and didn't play again, but a triceps tear is not lasting. These are subjects, not projects.
Williams is what I call a twofer. He's no longer with the Chargers and is now with the Broncos, who have become a legitimate 3-4 defense with three defensive linemen who know the ways and means of the scheme.
McDaniels admitted to me last year he was late getting to the free-agent and draft party, but he obviously has a better grip on the state of affairs this year. The coach will turn 34 next month and won't be the new kid on the block any more.
The Broncos can shift their attention to the offense.
The center of attention is a center. They don't have even one.
Again, I'm believing Hank Fraley, who was cut by the Browns (by mistake), would be a pleasant pickup. Seth Ol-sen, drafted in the fourth round last year, will compete for the starting left guard spot and did practice at center, although McDaniels said that Olsen, in the shotgun, snapped several balls into outer space. Thomas Jones, the special running back I recommended for the Broncos, signed Tuesday with the Chiefs, which is a shame. So the Broncos have to supplement their running back position with one more.
Yet, with the defensive line in place, McDaniels and Sanders can hone in on drafting young reserves at linebacker, cornerback, defensive end, tight end and on the offensive line (center and guard) and, at the top, wide receiver and quarterback.
The Broncos could make a major splash in the draft with Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant, the No. 1 wide receiver in the draft, in the first round and Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour in the second.
The Seahawks won't give up the sixth selection in the first round for Brandon Marshall, but might be negotiated into the later, 14th choice (from the Broncos) or multiple picks (second and fourth round), which would give the Broncos prime real estate to trade down, trade up.
The Broncos did much on Tuesday to improve the defense line with the Oh'Jays, but have much to do to improve the total "O."