The Broncos signed Safety T.J.Ward, who nicknamed himself “Boss,” mostly because he is a talker on the field. Now Ward is a big hitting Safety along the same lines as former Bronco Safeties Steve Atwater, John Lynch and Brian Dawkins. Historically, the Broncos have a tradition in tough hard-hitting Safeties and you will see that this is a key aspect that John Elway is seeking to restore and uphold. Now I’m not saying Ward is an incarnation of those three former Broncos.
What I see with Ward is someone who will tell the opposing Offense,
“What are you doing with my ball! That’s My ball and I’m going to force you to give it back!”
Steve Atwater was more vocal in the locker room than on the field. Instead, he would just smile. That was his intimidating style. Lynch didn’t need to talk it up. He relied on his reputation as well. Brian Dawkins, now He’s a talker. Nicknamed “Weapon X” or “Wolverine” depending on which mode he was in, Dawk would let you know he was coming for you. Receivers didn’t need to wait for footsteps, Brian would be screaming a War cry as he made a big hit.
This Safety tradition is something that is part of who the Broncos are as an organization. The moves they made in Free Agency this week weren’t to copy any other team. It was more of a restoration, or actually a part of an ongoing process to restore, the excellence that is the essence of the Denver Broncos organization and a literal extension of owner Pat Bowlen.
Signing a guy like Cornerback Aqib Talib reinforces Elway’s desire to add toughness to the Bronco Defense and continue tradition. Aqib gives Defensive Coordinator an aspect that he didn’t have in previous seasons–a Press Corner.
A Cornerback who plays “Press Coverage,” that is to say, he harasses and makes contact with the opposing Wide Receiver at the line of scrimmage. This forces the receiver out of synch with his Quarterback. West Coast style Offenses rely on the receiver to be in a certain place at a certain time and if the Cornerback can disrupt that timing, it upsets the opposing Offense. Combine this with a good pass rush and a Defense can be that much more successful.
But Aqib Talib is more than a guy who can get physical with a receiver. He is also a very good “Cover guy,” meaning he shadows his man very well and sticks close to him. Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were cover guys for the Broncos. The physical style that Talib plays is what Elway added when he signed Aqib Talib. Through the years, the Broncos have had some good Cornerbacks. Ring of Fame members Billy Thompson and Louis Wright for example. And speaking of Louis Wright, during first his press conference, Aqib was asked if he knew who Wright was. Talib wasn’t familiar with Louie, but he was told by a member of the media that he was Louie Wright’s doppelganger. See for yourself.
When the Broncos drafted Von Miller in 2011, they knew they had found a gem. Paired up with Elvis Dumervil, Denver had a pass rush to equal, if not better, than anytime in franchise history. However, along with Miller’s talent, came maturity issues. The Broncos knew that and believed the risk was small compared to the reward they were getting. To minimize the risk, they gave Von a mentor. Mentoring has been around for as long as young men have needed guidance and direction. It has also been a large part of the Broncos mode of operation. Steve Atwater had Dennis Smith. John Elway had his father Jack. He also had Craig Morton and Steve DeBerg for a short while. Elvis Dumervil was Von Miller’s mentor or Big Brother and while Dumervil was a Bronco, everything ran smooth. Von was a model citizen learning how to be a pro along with being a young man with a large bank account.
It didn’t take long to find out just how much Elvis Dumervil meant to the Broncos after he left to become a Baltimore Raven. Denver lost not only a pass rusher, but a big brother figure for Von Miller. Von strayed and got into trouble, leading to a six-game suspension last season. When he came back, Miller was his same dominant self, but he ended up injured and missing the playoffs when the team really needed him.
The Broncos signed Shaun Phillips last year to fill the pass rushing void when Elvis left the building, but as a one-year mercenary Free Agent, it wasn’t necessarily Shaun’s role to be Miller’s mentor. Phillips did his job and more as a pass rusher and is once again a Free Agent.
Once more, John Elway pulled the trigger on a deal that would solve more than one problem. He added a strong veteran presence in Defensive End DeMarcus Ware. The Broncos got an elite disruptive pass rusher, but more than that, they got a big-time leader, a guy who plays with attitude, a role model and a mentor for Von Miller that can keep him on the right track.
Coincidentally, the subject was brought up during DeMarcus Ware’s press conference to announce his signing with the Broncos.
“When Von first came in, before he got drafted, I talked to him a little bit. I’ve been mentoring him. Being able now to have the opportunity to play with him is a whole different thing. I’ll be in the same locker room with him, being able to teach him some things. I’m looking forward to that opportunity. I just think that it’s going to be great.”
Once again, we see John Elway fulfilling his duty to Pat Bowlen, the Broncos and Bronco fans throughout the world. Restoring and upholding Broncos tradition the “Elway Way.”
– Kaptain Kirk