ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — DeMarcus Ware’s new role with the Broncos as a pass-rush consultant offers the future Hall of Famer the perfect compromise.
Ware won’t work the insane hours that tend to go along with a career in coaching, but he’ll also have the chance to tutor the Broncos’ next crop of pass rushers.
“First of all, in coaching you have probably 90-hour weeks,” said Ware on Wednesday after a mandatory minicamp practice, “but I get to just pick and choose the groups that you get to work with — especially the defensive line and the linebackers — and really can hone in on the technique and really [don’t] have to worry about the scheme but really just [focus on] instilling the championship mentality in the guys.”
Ware, a former captain, should have plenty of wisdom to impart. And to Head Coach Vance Joseph, hiring Ware as a part-time consultant made perfect sense.
“It’s good for us,” Joseph said. “He’s a guy that can teach pass rush. He’s going to be our pass-rush consultant. He’s going to be in here a couple times a week, hopefully for home games, also. It’s good to have DeMarcus because he was with Von [Miller] and Shane [Ray] and Shaq [Barrett] and those guys."
Ware’s instruction, though, won’t be limited purely to the outside linebackers.
Joseph said the team’s defensive linemen could also learn from Ware, because pass rushing is ultimately about winning a one-on-one battle. While their stances and alignment may vary, the outside linebackers and linemen are all focused on hand positioning and individual pass-rush moves.
“They have great respect for him,” Joseph said. “Watching him teach pass rush is special. He has so much knowledge about pass rush, not just with those guys, but with [Derek] Wolfe and [Domata] Peko [Sr.] and the inside guys. It’s a good piece to have as part of our staff.”
Joseph clarified that while Ware would be involved in meetings, he would focus more on pass-rush technique over schematics.
Defensive Coordinator Joe Woods spoke to the value of that first-hand instruction.
“It’s awesome,” Woods said. “It’s really good because he’s hands on. He’s in the meeting room, he’s watching tape with the guys, he’s looking at all the things they’re doing with their pass-rush stunts. To get his hands on them in the drill work has been awesome. We’re glad to have him back.”
Ware’s work with two players in particular will certainly be closely monitored.
In Miller, Ware has a pupil who has demonstrated dominance in the past and is looking to elevate his pre-existing high standard of play.
“It’s great for Von,” Joseph said. “D-Ware was the guy that Von followed. He became a great player under D-Ware’s watch, along with the coaches.”
On the field, Miller’s game hasn’t changed much in the year since Ware retired.
Miller recorded 10 sacks in his lone season without Ware rushing off the opposite edge and often drew double teams and chips from opponents.
The Broncos’ new pass-rush consultant has, however, noticed a difference in Miller’s demeanor since the two played together in 2016.
Perhaps by necessity, Miller has grown drastically as a leader.
“He’s become a lot bigger leader on the team,” Ware said. “He’s leading a lot of the young guys, and he’s become a lot more vocal. Usually Von is Von — where he’s dancing on the sideline having a great time. He [can] still do that, but you can see him now pulling guys to the side, helping them out, and really instilling that championship mentality. I really like seeing him do that.”
Ware will also likely focus on a player whose game is similar to the one that Ware employed for 12 years in the NFL.
Fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb weighs just 10 pounds more than Ware did during his career, and he explained on Monday how he patterns his game after the former Bronco.
“[DeMarcus] helped me out a lot just doing different pass rush moves with him,” Chubb said. “He’s a bigger guy, as well, so he was just telling me the things he did to have success for so long in his career. He said whenever I needed anything to just text him or let him know.”
During his teaching sessions with Chubb, Ware will aim to help the young player — whom he called a “great, phenomenal athlete” — adapt to the nuances of the NFL game.
“The talent that he’s going against [is very different],” Ware said. “You’ve got guys now that are 35, 36 years old [and] have been playing in the league 12 years. … He has to just go out there and learn the scheme and just play lights out. That’s how he played in college, and that’s going to be the hardest part for him. Now it’s not going to be [the] 12 games that you had in college. It’s going to be probably 20, and it starts with the preseason.”
Ware may no longer have the desire to play a season of his own, but Woods said the former outside linebacker certainly looked like he could still come off the edge.
Just don’t expect Ware to ask Domata Peko Sr. to return the No. 94 jersey.
“I can actually give them 25 [snaps], but we’re not going to talk about that,” Ware joked. “Those days are done now.
“I can still put the cleats on and help them out in other ways.”