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Dean
07-21-2009, 11:29 AM
Mike Nolan evidently gave up his vow of silence.;). . . or did Eisendrath just collect a series of quotes? I can't decide.



2009 Position Previews: Defensive Backs



Editor's Note: In the days leading up to training camp, DenverBroncos.com will examine several key areas on the Broncos roster to give fans an idea of what to look for as the season approaches. First up in the eight-part series: Defensive backs

By Zach Eisendrath
DenverBroncos.com

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- To defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, building an effective defensive unit starts by having a smart and trustworthy secondary.

"When you are building something, the most experienced group that you'd like to start with you'd like to have on the back end, in the secondary, because obviously when they make a mistake it's a touchdown as opposed to the front," he said. "From a secondary standpoint, it was critical that we get experienced guys. Not only good players but guys with experience."

For that reason, the Broncos made stockpiling their defensive back corps a priority this offseason - using free agency and April's NFL Draft to add experience, speed and depth at the cornerback and safety positions.

THE NEW GUYS

Arguably the Broncos' top big-name signing came in the secondary. On Feb. 28, the second day of free agency, the club made headlines across the league by inking seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins to a five-year contract.

Dawkins is one of only four players in NFL history with at least 33 interceptions and 20 sacks. Lining up next to Champ Bailey, one of the game's elite cornerbacks, the 13-year veteran will likely continue to give opposing offenses headaches week in and week out.

"I've had an opportunity to play with some pretty good cornerbacks," Dawkins said. "Good cornerbacks like that make my job a lot easier. He's definitely one of those great cornerbacks that I'll have a privilege of playing with."

After Dawkins joined the team, Broncos brass continued to upgrade the secondary through free agency. On consecutive days, safety Renaldo Hill and cornerback Andre Goodman -- both of whom helped the Miami Dolphins complete a turnaround from a 1-15 season to winning the AFC East last season -- signed free agent contracts with the club.

Goodman, an eight-year pro, totaled a team-high five interceptions in 2008 for the Dolphins. Hill, meanwhile, was a 15-game starter for Miami last season. The pair of former Dolphins should add even more depth to an already experienced secondary.

Even after making a big splash in free agency, the club also used the 2009 NFL Draft to further improve the unit. Management quickly identified Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith as an ideal fit for Nolan's system. With Smith still available five picks into the second round, the team traded up to grab the ACC playmaker.

Smith played in a similar defensive system at Wake Forest, which has made his transition to the pro game a bit easier through minicamps and organized team activities. Comfortable with the verbiage and style of the club's defensive scheme, Smith is looking forward to making an immediate impact during his rookie campaign.

"I'm trying to come in and start right away -- that's the way I'm going to approach this thing," Smith said after he was drafted. "I can promise that I'm going to play really hard and play like my hair is on fire. When you play like that, making plays just happens naturally."

To further bolster its defensive corps, the team keyed in on a pair of safeties in the draft, as well. In the second round, the club nabbed Texas Tech's Darcel McBath. McBath started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2008, totaling 75 tackles and seven interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He also owns a share of Texas Tech history, recording a school-record three interceptions at Kansas on Oct. 25.

In the fourth round the Broncos selected another collegiate standout, Notre Dame's David Bruton. Bruton played in 48 career games for the Fighting Irish, starting 24 and totaling 214 tackles and seven interceptions. As a senior captain, Bruton posted a team-high four interceptions and earned All-America honorable mention.

Additionally, the club signed former Florida State cornerback Tony Carter and former Jackson State cornerback D.J. Johnson as college free agents on Apr. 27.

Throughout offseason workouts, the Broncos' rookie secondary players have been leaning on their veteran counterparts to adjust to the pro game. For instance, Bruton said he is always racking Dawkins' brain for tips on how he can improve his game.

"I sit next to him in meetings and I'm always asking him questions, talking to him," Bruton said. "He always gives me helpful hints about keeping my hips square or what I need to do or how I need to read -- the mentality you have to have when going in to sack the quarterback."

THE VETERANS

Without question, Bailey is the Broncos' most productive holdover from the team's 2008 defensive corps. The 11-year pro has eight Pro Bowl nominations to his name and is a four-time All-Pro selection. After missing seven games last season due to injury, one the NFL's elite shutdown defenders is back healthy and prime to make his presence known once again this season.

Through OTAs, Head Coach Josh McDaniels said Bailey has been as good as advertised.

"He's really stood out in the way that he has practiced," McDaniels said. "He has a great work ethic. Some of those things you don't get the opportunity to know before you get an opportunity to coach the player. For Champ to stand out like that as a veteran player like he is - it's just been great to see."

Adapting to Nolan's philosophy should be a bit smoother for Bailey than some of his teammates, as he worked with the Broncos first-year defensive coordinator his rookie season with the Washington Redskins.

"One thing about him, he's straight to the point. He's a guy that's going to make sure you understand what you're doing," Bailey said of Nolan. "I learned a lot from him (in Washington). The young guys are really going to benefit from having him around."

Once inexperienced rookies in 2008, a number of Broncos secondary players return this season with a year of NFL knowledge under their belts.

Joshua Bell made his NFL debut against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 2, and then proceeded to start five games at cornerback for the team due to Bailey's injury. In total, Bell finished his first year with 43 tackles and four pass breakups.

Safety Josh Barrett found himself in a similar position with the team last year. He spent the first 11 weeks of his rookie campaign on the Broncos' practice squad, before signing to their active roster for the final six weeks of the season. Barrett went on to start the team's final three games in 2008, finishing the year with 23 tackles and one interception.

Second-year pro Jack Williams, who played in 14 games for the club last season, and eight-year veteran safety Vernon Fox also provide depth in the secondary. During his first season with the Broncos, Williams totaled nine defensive tackles, while tying for sixth on the squad with five special-teams stops.

Fox saw playing time in 10 games for the Broncos last season, starting three contests and finishing the season with 20 tackles and one fumble recovery, which he returned for a touchdown.

So far, the Broncos' secondary holdovers appear to be meshing quite well with the team's new defensive back components. With a mixture of proven veterans and young but enthusiastic backs, expect this unit to cause havoc across the field this season.

"I feel good about the guys we have back there," Goodman said. "I think every day we've been progressing and I think that is what we try to accomplish at OTAs every day, just trying to get better, and I think we've been doing that."

MEET THE PLAYERS

Cornerbacks

•Champ Bailey ranks second in the NFL with 25 interceptions since joining the Broncos in 2004 and is tied for second in the league with 43 interceptions since his rookie season in 1999.
•Joshua Bell began his Broncos career on the team's practice squad before finding a starting role for five games during the 2008 campaign.
•Tony Carter started all 50 games he played at Florida State, totaling 139 tackles and nine interceptions as a Seminole.
•In 2007, Andre' Goodman received Miami's nomination for the Ed Block Courage Award.
•After starting his collegiate career at Missouri, D.J. Johnson played in 24 games at Jackson State, totaling 66 career tackles and 10 interceptions.
•Alphonso Smith set a Wake Forest record with eight interceptions in 2008. The ACC standout returned three of those picks for touchdowns, one shy of the NCAA Division I record.
•Jack Williams grabbed two interceptions for 121 return yards in the 2008 preseason, including an 89-yard touchdown return to seal a win at Arizona.
Safeties

•Josh Barrett snagged the first interception of his career at Carolina on Dec. 14.
•Brian Dawkins has been named to the Pro Bowl four of the past five seasons. He finished his 13-year tenure with the Eagles as the franchise's all-time leader in regular season games played (183), postseason starts (18) and overall wins (109).
•In Week 13 last season, Vernon Fox scored his first career touchdown on a 23-yard fumble return in a win against the New York Jets.
•For his career, Renaldo Hill has started 84 games - 42 at safety and 42 at cornerback.

Copyright 2009 Denver Broncos Site Map

LRtagger
07-21-2009, 11:33 AM
http://www.broncosforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=41581

dogfish
07-21-2009, 11:43 AM
To defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, building an effective defensive unit starts by having a smart and trustworthy secondary.

i told people before the draft that this was nolan's M.O.-- it didn't work for him in san fran, so we'll see if it turns out any better here with another weak line. . . .

Dean
07-21-2009, 11:48 AM
You are right. The first line by Nolan about the secondary is not how his Raven defenses and he as a D-coordinator achieved success.

CoachChaz
07-21-2009, 11:48 AM
i told people before the draft that this was nolan's M.O.-- i didn't work for him in san fran, so we'll see if it turns out any better here with another weak line. . . .

It's weak, but in his defense, he didnt exactly have the DB's he has right now. Whether that makes a difference, I dont know, but we'll see soon enough

Northman
07-21-2009, 12:11 PM
You are right. The first line by Nolan about the secondary is not how his Raven defenses and he as a D-coordinator achieved success.

Definitely agree there.

Lonestar
07-21-2009, 03:00 PM
I think whatever we get this year it will be heads and above last years debacle..

I frankly do not see this complete rebuild as showing major jumps up the ratings ladder till next year..

this D was in such a shambles it was completely demolished and is being built from the foundation up and it make take 2-3 years to get all the correct pieces in place till then we will have to use substandard equipment, till it is built..

WARHORSE
07-21-2009, 03:14 PM
This crew is not anywhere near as bad as last years ragamuffins.

Totally true on the fact that we want experienced veterans back in the outfield vs young athletic rookies and first year players.


This year is going to be different.



I can taste it.:coffee:

Superchop 7
07-21-2009, 03:43 PM
I like Nolan.

But I couldn't disagree more.

It starts up front.

lex
07-21-2009, 03:50 PM
I like Nolan.

But I couldn't disagree more.

It starts up front.

I didnt get that he said it starts in the back. What I got is that he thinks experience is more important in the secondary.

Superchop 7
07-21-2009, 04:22 PM
I didnt get that he said it starts in the back. What I got is that he thinks experience is more important in the secondary.

__________________________________________________ ______________________________

Nolan is a fine teacher.

But.

He is the last guy I trust in matters of player personnel and unfortunately, he is having input.

The one thing that I had hoped for out of all of this......

Was the NE way of drafting.

Biggest need.....first pick.

Next biggest need.....second pick, etc, etc.

What we ended up with was the blind leading the blind, McDaniels offensive ambitions coupled with Nolans cluelessness on what is truly needed.

We were desperate for front 7.

and unfortunately,

We still are.

SoCalImport
07-21-2009, 05:26 PM
Isn't NE's second round WR from a couple of years ago sitting back on our depth chart somewhere?

the Pats drafting is far from infallible.

Lonestar
07-21-2009, 06:17 PM
Isn't NE's second round WR from a couple of years ago sitting back on our depth chart somewhere?

the Pats drafting is far from infallible.


please do not go there about drafting perfection..:eek:

T.K.O.
07-21-2009, 06:39 PM
__________________________________________________ ______________________________

Nolan is a fine teacher.

But.

He is the last guy I trust in matters of player personnel and unfortunately, he is having input.

The one thing that I had hoped for out of all of this......

Was the NE way of drafting.

Biggest need.....first pick.
Next biggest need.....second pick, etc, etc.
What we ended up with was the blind leading the blind, McDaniels offensive ambitions coupled with Nolans cluelessness on what is truly needed.

We were desperate for front 7.

and unfortunately,

We still are.

soooo.... after the demolition of our entire stable of backs last year and the obvious need for a true #1 rb (starting a phone salesman and all)
and getting the best available front 7 guy with our 2nd pick.
how is it that we didnt follow that formula ?
we have been a .500 team for 3 years,sorry its not a matter of picking up 3 defensive players and all is well.
i think the team did a good job of fortifying many areas of concern.
as others have stated this D needs a full makeover and its going to take at least 2 years so you have to beef up the O to compensate some at the same time !

Shazam!
07-21-2009, 09:16 PM
Having the CBs not play 10 yards ahead of opposing WRs, improvising and adjusting when necessary instead of continuing to do the same ineffective approaches, and blitzing when your line can't get pressure on it's own would be enough to improve this defense. Coaching could make a difference alone, albeit even small, even with all the existing personnel.

Lonestar
07-21-2009, 09:29 PM
Having the CBs not play 10 yards ahead of opposing WRs, improvising and adjusting when necessary instead of continuing to do the same ineffective approaches, and blitzing when your line can't get pressure on it's own would be enough to improve this defense. Coaching could make a difference alone, albeit even small, even with all the existing personnel.


hell if they can all be on the same play at the same time it will make a difference..

Shazam!
07-21-2009, 09:33 PM
...and tackle better. Just better fundamentals can make a helluva difference.

Lonestar
07-21-2009, 09:47 PM
...and just tackle. Just better fundamentals can make a helluva difference.



edited for acuracy..

horsepig
07-21-2009, 10:23 PM
What the Hell was Shanahan thinking? Did he draw DC names out of a hat, ask old college roomates, ask a psychic? Then 4 games into the season say, "What the Hell is going on with the defensew?".

"Bye the way, has anybody seen the ST's coach? What's his name? We have really, really good kickers, what going on with that?".

"Wait just a sec, I have to take a second look at my bathroom plans on this laminated sheet that I don't want Jake Plummer to get a look at. Just tell Jay to throw to Marshall amnd we'll be okay. Where the heck are those kitchen plans?".

" Dam Norv Turner and Phyllis! Who's watching the uh, uh, oh yeah, the defense anyway? Larry Coyer?".

Please note that the quotes assigned to Mike Shanahan are of my own demented making and have no reflection on reality whatsoever. Just a little fun and venting.

horsepig
07-21-2009, 10:34 PM
We hire a bright, young new wiz kid to guide the franchise into its next era, and then he hiores an old retread DC that has never really impressefd me.

Ex-head coach hired to smooth some rough waters?

I wanted a young, aggressive blitz crazy lunatic myself.

Elevation inc
07-22-2009, 03:16 AM
i told people before the draft that this was nolan's M.O.-- it didn't work for him in san fran, so we'll see if it turns out any better here with another weak line. . . .

thats becasue in san fran all he had was nate clements.....:lol:

SoCalImport
07-22-2009, 12:07 PM
Bates, btw. was Shanny's best chance to turn his defensive woes around. He was never given a chance to put his stamp on the Broncos D.
Same thing with Rhodes.
Neither of those guys were given the time or control to make a difference. All this is part an parcel with Shannhan's lack of interest in doing what was best for the Defense in Denver.

I loved Mike. but he didn't have a clue about the other side of the game.

Lonestar
07-22-2009, 12:16 PM
Bates, btw. was Shanny's best chance to turn his defensive woes around. He was never given a chance to put his stamp on the Broncos D.
Same thing with Rhodes.
Neither of those guys were given the time or control to make a difference. All this is part an parcel with Shannhan's lack of interest in doing what was best for the Defense in Denver.

I loved Mike. but he didn't have a clue about the other side of the game.


I really believe that he made major mistakes with both Rhodes and Bates both proven DCs..


I will always believe that mike hired Rhodes because he knew he had to have a top flight guy but then he left after not getting the tools he needed and after realizing the mike was a control freak.. he did not need that kind of crap..

As for Bates I really believe that that was more of a Pat saying hire this guy and mike true to form did so , allowed him to draft his men and then sabotaged him afterall he had promoted slowick to DC a few weeks before hiring him out of the blue..

I really believe that Bates had a scheme and would have succeeded if the players would have bought into it, but at the time the DB's really liked slowitt and alot of folks drug their feet in learning the system as they sensed that Bates was not mikes first choices..

mike went along with it till the bye and then reinstalled slowitts D and subsequently forced Bates out..


Not having a decent D was what kiled mike future in DEN.. and that started with running Robinson off along time ago..

underrated29
07-22-2009, 12:26 PM
before we moved to bates and slow, we were always a top 10 defense. I think with a normal scheme we will be there very shortly. Not this year, we are still missing guys needed to make our transformation complete. And we have a brutal ass schedule.

Next year i would not at all be surprised to see our D, right around the top 10, assuming we keep champ and a few other variables.

Lonestar
07-22-2009, 01:30 PM
before we moved to bates and slow, we were always a top 10 defense. I think with a normal scheme we will be there very shortly. Not this year, we are still missing guys needed to make our transformation complete. And we have a brutal ass schedule.

Next year i would not at all be surprised to see our D, right around the top 10, assuming we keep champ and a few other variables.


but it was almost never top ten on both side passing and running.. 2 of the following 13 years..

always one or the other.. top 5 D on run in the high teens or worse for pass or vice versa..

it was to the point no one had to try the run because the pass defense was so bad they could pass at will or did not have to pass because they could run when they wanted.. never been a real consitent on both sides of stopping the passing or running game together..

here is the ranking per year.. from NFL.com



year yards run pass scoring..
2008 29 27 26 29
2007 19 30 7 27
2006 14 12 21 8
2005 15 2 29 4
2004 4 4 6 10
2003 4 7 6 9
2002 6 4 17 15
2001 8 6 16 22
2000 24 7 31 25
1999 7 19 8 11
1998 11 3 26 9
1997 5 16 5 8
1996 4 1 10 7

underrated29
07-22-2009, 01:34 PM
but it was almost never top ten on both side passing and running.. 2 of the following 13 years..

always one or the other.. top 5 D on run in the high teens or worse for pass or vice versa..

it was to the point no one had to try the run because the pass defense was so bad they could pass at will or did not have to pass because they could run when they wanted.. never been a real consitent on both sides of stopping the passing or running game together..

here is the ranking per year.. from NFL.com



year yards run pass scoring..
2008 29 27 26 29
2007 19 30 7 27
2006 14 12 21 8
2005 15 2 29 4
2004 4 4 6 10
2003 4 7 6 9
2002 6 4 17 15
2001 8 6 16 22
2000 24 7 31 25
1999 7 19 8 11
1998 11 3 26 9
1997 5 16 5 8
1996 4 1 10 7


yes you are right. When we had coyer. I always said we would beat teams and lose to the good passing teams. Teams like Indy,bengals,pittsburgh. And most other teams we could handle.

Now we are bad at both. I susepct we will be good at run defense and bad at pass defense again.

Dean
07-22-2009, 03:39 PM
Looking at our most likely defensive front, I believe we will not be able to stop the run. Our pass defense will be dependant upon whether our OLBs can mount any kind of a pass rush.

Having a new defensive scheme will (IMO) lead to an increase in mental errors.

Lonestar
07-22-2009, 03:54 PM
Looking at our most likely defensive front, I believe we will not be able to stop the run. Our pass defense will be dependant upon whether our OLBs can mount any kind of a pass rush.

Having a new defensive scheme will (IMO) lead to an increase in mental errors.


I suspect you are mostly correct.. but we all know that we were going to have to go to a 3-4 for several years and we may as well bite the bullet and do it now..

Our D has not had a pass rush since John L retired and then it was not all that good..

We lived by the blitz for decades and lately because our LB's for the most part sucked died by it..

DEN has always been a LB town for as long back as I can remember.. especially since the Orange crush days.. 30+ years ago..

we have drafted only one quality DL guy that we were able to keep since 1999 ten years folks.. and then we overpaid him and underpaid they other one we should have kept..