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Denver Broncos: Orange Crush 2.0 and Coming Away with Wins in Close Games

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 02: Denver Broncos linebacker DeMarcus Ware speaks to the media at the Broncos media availability at the Santa Clara Marriott on February 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Broncos current defense leads the NFL in all major categories. They are first against the rush and first against the pass. So what can’t they do?

Win the Super Bowl. But no one can yet because it hasn’t happened. It remains to be seen how the Broncos D will fare against the heavy offensive attack of the Carolina Panthers and their leader, Cam Newton. The Broncos are used to close games, which the Super Bowl will likely be, and they are not afraid of the task at hand or under hoof, as a Bronco.

“What blowout did we have this year? Maybe the Packers game, that’s it. So, we are used to playing in close games. That’s what we do. We’re used to playing in games that come down to the wire. And we prevail,” linebacker Brandon Marshall said.

The Broncos are 11-3 in games decided by 7 points or less. The best strategy to employ during the Super Bowl against the Panthers then may very well be to keep the game close.

“I think it helps playing a lot of close games during the course of the season, starting with the very first one against Baltimore,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “That was a dog fight, grinder and went down to the last drive. If you can be in a lot of those games and win those games, it certainly gives you confidence and, hey, it’s playoff football.”

Coach Gary Kubiak had something to add on the matter, head coach needs his say and all that.

“That kind of has become a theme for us,” Gary Kubiak said, “to grind and work and just keep ourselves in position to be successful.”

If John Elway is to add to his Lombardi Trophy collection which now stands at two, all from his Hall of Fame playing career, Orange Crush 2.0 needs to have a big and dominating performance. They have been dominant up to this point, undoubtedly, leading the league in sacks with 52 and already having ambushed 7 quarterbacks in the postseason. Von Miller contributing 11 of those 52 and Demarcus Ware contributing 7.5.

Four of the postseason sacks came in the game against New England, on famed quarterback Tom Brady.

The Broncos, during the regular season, were also first in defensive efficiency and first in pass defense. Their overall defense in a word: scary, fearsome, domineering.

John Elway, executive vice president/general manager, has built the team well from the ground up. Maybe not from the ground up, but he has made excellent use of draft picks in order to maintain and build an organization focused on defense first.

That may not have been his main goal, the whole defense first thing, but as he saw what he had and saw what he was working with it became clear that his defense was shaping up to be one that was a force to be reckoned with.

A few weeks after Denver’s loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl, you know that big, ugly 35 point loss, Elway committed over $100 million in free agency to Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward, and Demarcus Ware, three of the main reasons the Denver Broncos are now in Super Bowl 50.

Since Elway was hired as a member of the Broncos’ front office in 2011, Denver has drafted a defensive player with their first pick in the draft each of the last five years and eight defensive players on the roster are former top-40 draft picks.

The final piece to the decisively dominant defense was the signing of Wade Phillips, who was hired as defensive coordinator at the beginning of the 2015 season. The year the Broncos lost embarrassingly to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, their defense was ranked 19th. That ranking climbed to third in 2014 and first in 2015 under Phillips.

This year the Broncos lead the league in four categories: total yards allowed (283.1), sacks (52), forced fumbles (25) and defensive scores (four).

For this year’s Broncos to be Orange Crush 2.0 they need to surpass some pretty high expectations. Some think this cannot be done.

“Orange Crush, part two?” Red Miller, coach of the Orange Crush Broncos says, his voice full of skepticism. “Not yet. I don’t see how you can say that. They’ve got a good start. Come on. Don’t get too excited.

“You know, they have a lot to do in front of them to be the Broncos of old.”

“I like this defense a lot,” Joe Collier, defensive coordinator of the original Orange Crush says. “They’re very aggressive. Wade’s got a good group of kids and a lot of depth, too.”

Intensity was key, these wide old men imparted. Intensity and a team that could hold opposing offenses to 10.6 PPG, a rare mark for any defense. The record for most points allowed in a 16 game season is 165 by the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, a mark just superseded, in a bad way, by the Orange Crush Broncos.

So the topic of the hour: the Super Bowl. The Broncos can win if and only if their defense shows up to the extent that it has all season. Orange Crush 2.0 notwithstanding the Broncos look to hoist that Lombardi Trophy to unprecedented heights. It is rumored that Chris Harris, Broncos cornerback will skydive with the trophy, but that is merely a rumor, merely speculation.

However they celebrate, celebrate they will. If and when they win. Can you tell I’m a Broncos fan yet?

 

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