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T.J. Ward envisions defense leading NFL in takeaways


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —** In certain regards, the Broncos defense will have a tough time improving from its impressive marks in 2014. The secondary allowed a franchise-record low in average yardage per completion and the rushing defense allowed 79.8 yards per game, second-best in the NFL last year.

However, where the defense wants to make its mark in 2015 is in takeaways. Last year the Broncos forced 25 turnovers, 13th in the league and tied with six other teams. This year, they want more.

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"I want [us] to lead the league in interceptions," safety T.J. Ward began. "I want to lead the league in sacks from the secondary. I want to lead the league in turnovers. And if we do that, we'll be pretty good."

Where that can stem from is Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips' defensive philosophy to unleash defensive players' natural aggression.

"Sacks, interceptions, getting to the quarterback, pressuring the offense, making them play your style of football instead of playing theirs," Ward said of how the turnover goals reconcile with the new defensive mindset.

"I'd like us to take advantage of the interception opportunities we had," Ward said. "I think we dropped some interceptions last year. I'd like to see us have more forced fumbles. I don't think we had many forced fumbles last year. I just want to see us score on defense. Big plays, turnovers. That's what we want and that's what we can improve on from last year."

Getting to the quarterback or flushing him out of the pocket to force mistakes are imperative ways to get those takeaways, as are using disguises or simply employing "flat out good coverage."

"As good as we were last year, we can be, I feel, a lot better," Ward said. "I feel we can be a lot better this year, and that's the plan and that's the goal."

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