ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --As the Broncos continue their preparation for Sunday's visit to New England, Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio has gone back to basics with his unit.
If Denver wants to stifle an offense that put up 52 points in its Week 4 win over Buffalo, it will have to focus on tackling to avoid allowing explosive plays.
"We watched last week, they put 52 on Buffalo," Del Rio said. "They're good at what they do. We have to play well. We have to tackle because there are going to be times when the ball is delivered or run and you have to be able to leverage and tackle these guys."
Against a Tom-Brady led offense, mistakes must be kept at a minimum. Otherwise, the future Hall of Famer has the ability to pick apart even the best defenses.
"Just be good, solid and sound because this is a football team that will take advantage of your mistakes," Del Rio said. "Typically when you look back and see a team that's giving up that many points, regardless of how good they are, the defense is breaking down. We want to play good, solid defense and make it difficult on them."
The Broncos squared off against New England twice last season, once at Sports Authority Field and once at Gillette Stadium.
The results were similar in each game, with the Patriots defeating the Broncos 41-23 in Week 15, then 45-10 in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.
While both teams have undergone offseason changes, Denver's have been more significant with the Broncos' change at quarterback.
"We're never finished acquiring personnel," said Del Rio, who is in his first season with the Broncos as well. "But the guys that are here, the guys that have been here, the guys that are getting healthier, we're working through it, trying to utilize packages where we can get people on the field and allow them to do some of the things they're capable of."
Another offseason acquisition that has opened each of Denver's first four games is rookie defensive end Derek Wolfe.
Wolfe became just the sixth rookie in Broncos history to record a sack in the club's regular-season opener and ranks second among the team's defensive linemen with 10 tackles on the year.
His versatility along the defensive line is something that allows Del Rio to give opposing offenses a variety of looks. Last week against Oakland, the Broncos showed no down linemen at the snap at times, and have moved pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil around the formation to combine with Wolfe's interior pass-rush ability to create havoc for offensive lines.
"He's done a little bit of both (interior and exterior positions)," Del Rio said. "We talked about him being able to do both when we got him. He's played from the nine-technique out wide all the way in to the zero-technique over the center. He's a very valuable guy for us."
Despite last year's outcomes against New England, Del Rio believes those offseason improvements have the Broncos in better position to compete with the AFC powerhouse this time around. "It can haunt you if you let it," he said of last year's results. "But the way I look at it, it's a new year, a new beginning. You certainly feel the sting of being beaten like that, but you can't carry much more than that, with the motivation of going in there and making sure you put your best product out there on the football field."