Last year, the Denver Broncos were one of the most talked about teams in all of sports, thanks to one specific player, Tim Tebow.
With the approach of the new season, Tebow is gone, but the arrival of his replacement, Peyton Manning, has once again stolen the spotlight from the unappreciated and underrated Denver defense.
Improving last year, the Broncos went from last in nearly every category in 2010 to 20th overall in 2011. While not perfect, the defense has certainly shown it is on the right path.
The new front office, led by Broncos legend John Elway, is quickly addressing areas of need, and is looking to win right now.
We're going to do everything we can to compete for world championships, John Elway said. I want to compete for Super Bowls.
Having lost defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos recently hired former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio to run this year's defense.
Considered a mastermind of his craft, Del Rio coached alongside head coach John Fox with the Carolina Panthers, and was the defensive coordinator when they reached Super Bowl XXXVIII.
We are thrilled to be able to add such a well-respected defensive coach to our staff, Fox tweeted. His defenses with the Jaguars have ranked among the NFL's best, and we are excited he's a Bronco.
Besides losing their seventh defensive coordinator in seven seasons, the Broncos were also struck by the retirement of captain Brian Dawkins.
Without hesitation, the front office got to work, and quickly added valuable experience to their raw secondary in the form of Tracy Porter and Drayton Florence.
This team definitely has the qualities to get back to a championship and that's something I definitely want to be a part of, Porter said. I'm looking forward to beginning my career with the Denver Broncos.
The only question mark still in place with Denver's defense is the situation of their defensive line and given that Denver struggled to stop the run last year they still need something to happen along the defensive front.
They are hoping that draft pick Derek Wolfe from the University of Cincinnati will be able to immediately contribute on the field.
He's a good, smart player who is going to play a long time, coordinator Del Rio said. He cares. He's intelligent. He plays hard. I see Derek being that kind of guy.
Most recently, former Patriots defensive linemen Ty Warren, who has been sidelined by injuries the past two seasons, was picked up by the Broncos. He was able to attend Broncos OTAs and expects to be part of Denver's mini-camp next week.
As far as my body feeling good, I haven't felt this good-I don't know, since I was bigger than everybody else in high school, and I could go play a game and dominate and walk away without a scratch on me, Warren said. It's been a long time since I felt as good as I feel.
The first true test for the Broncos will come under the lights on Sunday Night Football as they will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff rematch on September 9.
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