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New coordinators comfortable with task at hand

The Broncos' new coaches got the memo.

No matter what form their 2015 team takes -- and with 19 percent of the final 53-man roster eligible for unrestricted free agency, at least some change is coming, like it or not -- the task for Head Coach Gary Kubiak and his staff is clear: ensure that the Broncos maximize their potential by attacking and refusing to back down.

Call it whatever you will -- "kicking and screaming," expelling smoke through the nostrils, playing like a pack of rabid dogs -- it is in the attitude of the team's performance where this coaching staff hopes to imprint its first mark.

"Well that's a part of playing hard," said Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison. "That's going to be part of the thing that we consider that they're accountable for: Play hard, great effort. And they'll know that (from) Day One."

Talent isn't a problem, as Dennison learned when he worked at the Pro Bowl with the Ravens' staff. The Broncos had eight players there, including two -- cornerback Aqib Talib and left tackle Ryan Clady -- who played for Dennison's team.

"It's a talent-laden group, offense and defense, so I'm certainly excited for that," Dennison said. "And certainly having been around here for years, I know what the expectations are and I'm excited about the expectations."

The expectations are high for Wade Phillips' defense, which finished 2014 ranked third in the league in total yardage and second in yardage per play allowed, but did not fare as well in pass-rush metrics and had just three sacks in the last four games, including the playoff los.

To the surprise of no one who has watched Phillips' defenses, he preached aggression.

"We're aggressive. Defensive players, they're aggressive by nature," Phillips said. "I think you take something away from them when you don't let them be. And aggressive doesn't mean blitzing all the time, but it does mean coming off the football—everybody coming off the football.

"You won't see a square stance from a defensive lineman -- so to speak for people who know football -- where you're reading. This is an attack defense, and that's the way players like to play. You get the best results out of that and I think you play the best that way so we'll be that way."

Special teams benefits from aggression, as well, and for players who switch between defense and the third phase, the same attacking mindset serves them well when they sprint downfield to cover a kickoff or punt, or blast forward to block for a returner.

But one key task for new coordinator Joe DeCamillis is to increase the discipline on the Broncos' special teams. Only six teams have racked up more penalty yardage in the last two seasons than the Broncos have (373), and in each season the Broncos ranked 27th (2013) and 21st (2014) in avoiding penalties.

Speed and discipline serve you well on offense and defense, and special teams is no different.

"We want to play faster than our opponents," DeCamillis said. "When they look at it on tape I want them to know that we're going to be a fast team and a physical team. The other thing about it is you want to be very fundamentally sound. Any time a coach turns on the film I want them to say, 'Wow, that guy—technique-wise—they're excellent at what they do.'

"And that's really, kind of fits in to what 'Kub' is asking for, too. We came in and talked and that was something that was important to him and we want to carry that on and get better."

Getting better from a 12-4 season and a 38-10 record in the last three years is difficult. But the playoff loss and the manner in which it occurred revealed cracks that must be filled and fortified. How well the Broncos succeed at this will determine the success of the overhauled staff, and its work in all phases.


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Check out photos of Rick Dennison, Wade Phillips and Joe DeCamillis as they met the media on Tuesday. All photos by Eric Lars Bakke.

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