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Tone Setters

Posted Aug 20, 2011

The Broncos defense showed off its newly-formed aggressive mentality in Saturday's victory against the Bills.


DENVER -- Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen has been working to change the mindset of the Broncos defense since he took over.

Saturday night against the Buffalo Bills, that new, aggressive mentality was on full display.

The first-team unit set the tone for the night, swarming to the ball, playing with a physical edge and ultimately allowing just a field goal and 90 yards of total offense in a half of play against the Bills' starters.

"It's an attitude. That's what we want. That's what we're trying to give - violent, relentless, swarming, attacking, just nasty defense," defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson said. "That's how (Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen) coaches, and that's what we're trying to give him."

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick felt the full force of the Broncos' inspired defensive effort. 

On the opening drive of the game, Allen sent a blitz in the red zone that got right to the Bills quarterback, forcing an incompletion and an eventual field goal attempt.

Von Miller was let loose the next time the Broncos defense trotted out onto the field, as the rookie linebacker burst off the edge and dropped Fitzpatrick for his first NFL sack.

Towards the end of the first half, the Broncos kept the pressure coming and it forced the Bills into a mistake.
During the same series that included a crushing blow from D.J. Williams on Fitzpatrick and a stop in the backfield for Elvis Dumervil, the Broncos created their first turnover of the night, thanks to a tipped ball that fell into the arms of Williams for an interception.

Allen has emphasized the importance of turnovers as a byproduct of his aggressive system and his defense produced the takeaway he was looking for.

"He wants us to go out there, play fast, get the ball back to our offense," linebacker Joe Mays said. "That's one of the things he is going to continue to preach besides going out and playing fast and playing physical."

The front seven made Fitzpatrick uncomfortable throughout the night, and Miller was quick to credit the work of the secondary for blanketing receivers and limiting the options for the Bills signal caller, which in turn allowed he and the other Denver pass rushers to wreak havoc in the backfield.

"Our secondary was doing a heck of a job, holding everybody up and disguising their looks," said Miller, who had a second sack called off due to an offsides penalty. "What else can we do when you've got great coverage like that? You've just got to get back there."

Fellow rookie Rahim Moore gave credit right back to the front seven, saying his teammates up at the line of scrimmage were eager to satisfy their hunger in getting to the Bills quarterbacks.

"When you have guys like Von and Elvis, Vickerson and (Robert) Ayers - those guys thrive on getting to the QB," Moore said. "It's like food."

The Broncos are confident Saturday night's performance is just a taste of what's to come for their new-look defense this season.

Safety Brian Dawkins believes there is still plenty of progress to be made, but it is clear the defense is starting to take ownership of the aggressive mentality they've worked hard to create in training camp.

"From the first game to this game we improved, and the intensity is where it needs to be as far as us flying around on the defensive side of the ball," Dawkins said. "We just have to continue to grow and correct the mistakes that we did make in this game, but I'm definitely excited about tonight's effort."

Dumervil echoed those sentiments and is impressed with the tone the defense has set through the first two weeks of the exhibition slate.

"We've got to use these preseason games to establish what we want to be during the regular season," Dumervil said. "To define who we want to be, we've got to start off early.

"I think we're headed in the right direction."