Good news at D-coordinator
AP Pro Football Writer
ENGLEWOOD — Every offseason since 2007, Champ Bailey returned to Dove Valley headquarters and had to learn a new scheme under a new defensive coordinator.
Not this summer.
Jack Del Rio is back for a second straight season with the Broncos.
That’s no small thing in Denver, where even the hottest of coaching seats in the league were downright cool compared to the Mile High musical chairs at defensive coordinator.
Starting with Jim Bates replacing Larry Coyer in 2007, and followed by Bob Slowik (2008), Mike Nolan (2009), Don Martindale (2010), Dennis Allen (2011) and Del Rio, the Broncos were always under the hood with a new mechanic.
Now, Bailey said, they can finally see how fast that baby can go.
“That’s pretty much it. You can really build on what we’ve done well in the past. When you get a new defense, coaches are kind of afraid to put in too much, because it’s all new,” Bailey said. “But now we can expand from what we’ve done good and hopefully get even better.”
The Broncos were very good under Del Rio a year ago, ranking second in the league overall, third against the run, third against the pass, first in third-down percentage, first in yards allowed per play and tied for first in sacks.
This year, they’re faster after a much smoother and more productive offseason, and not just because they’ve added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Shaun Phillips to the mix, either.
They hounded Peyton Manning on the first day of training camp and really flustered his backups and the rest of the Broncos’ high-octane offense featuring speedsters Demaryius Thomas and Ronnie Hillman.
“Yeah, playing fast,” Del Rio said Saturday after the Broncos’ first padded practice in six months. “Regardless of the timed 40 speed of each guy on the field we want to look like a team that plays fast because we want to be certain where we’re going, trust each other, be accountable, be reliable and let it rip.”
With more speed at his disposal, Del Rio can contemplate add-ons rather than another refurbishing that’s been the norm in Denver through three coaching regimes and the better part of a decade.
Sure, the Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil to free agency and are facing the possibility of being without All-Pro linebacker Von Miller, the fulcrum of Del Rio’s defense, for the first month of the season pending his appeal of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
But for the first time since Mike Shanahan was stalking the sidelines in Denver, the Broncos have stability at the top of their defensive coaching staff.
“It means a lot,” said Bailey, the longest tenured Bronco, who’s been here since 2004. “For a corner specifically, it doesn’t change a lot for me personally, but I can definitely see the difference in the guys around me, and that makes a huge, huge difference in what we can do up front and on the back end with the safeties.”
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