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Mile High Morning: Broncos' 2015 defense rated best of the decade by Football Outsiders 


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It's not news to any Broncos fan that Peyton Manning's 2013 season was the best by a quarterback in the last decade.

But I was glad to see the 2015 Broncos' defense also get its due as the best of the 2010s in an analytical look at the best players and teams of the decade. As good as that 2013 Seahawks unit was — and, yes, you know we remember they too were historically great — the Broncos' 2015 group held opponents to fewer yards per play and sacked opposing quarterbacks more frequently, and it did so against the fourth-toughest schedule that season, compared to the Seahawks' second-easiest schedule in 2013.

According to Football Outsiders' DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) measurement, the Broncos came out on top as the best unit there, too.

"The Super Bowl champions were dominant against both the pass (No. 1 in DVOA with a league-leading 5.1 net yards allowed per pass) and the run (No. 4 in DVOA with a league-leading 3.3 yards allowed per carry)," Aaron Schatz wrote. "The Broncos put up these numbers against the fourth-toughest defensive schedule in the league. The issue wasn't too many games against the best offenses, but almost no games against bad defenses: Indianapolis and Cleveland were the only Denver opponents ranked 21st or lower in offensive DVOA. Then, like the 2013 Seahawks, they had to vanquish three of the top eight offenses in the playoffs on the way to the Lombardi Trophy. Remarkably, Von Miller was the only player on this defense elected to the AP All-Pro first team."

The Broncos' follow-up campaign in 2016 was nearly as good, too; it was ranked ninth-best.

Schatz also ranked several other Broncos teams and players highly: the 2012 Broncos were ranked the sixth-best team of the decade; the 2013 Broncos offense was eighth-best; Emmanuel Sanders' 2014 season came in at sixth among wide receivers; and Peyton Manning's 2012 and 2013 seasons ranked ninth and first overall, respectively.

Below the Fold

Manning apparently recently spoke to the Broncos' rookie class via Zoom conference, according to The Denver Channel's Troy Renck. "They were told beforehand to be prepared to take diligent notes, but the topic was not revealed," Renck wrote. "Manning discussed several points with the prospects. The one that stuck out the most? Treat practice like a game, and grind out everyday."

On Tuesday, the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame announced the names on the ballot for the 2021 Hall of Fame class. Several former Broncos will be up for consideration, including Champ Bailey, Jason Elam, Ed McCaffrey, Dan Neil and Al Wilson. Also, Broncos Defensive Line Coach Bill Kollar is on the ballot as a former standout at Montana State.

It may be hard to top the NFC South's collection of quarterback talent, but the AFC West might take the mantle soon enough in this ranking of NFL divisions by QBs. Looking specifically at Drew Lock,'s Adam Schein wrote, "Lock really showed a lot in his five starts as a rookie last December. … I expect big things from Lock this year."

The Unclassifieds

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