Posted Thu Jun 14th by Jon Heath
Remind me to never get on Joe May‘s bad side. Otherwise, I could end up looking like the Chiefs’ Tony Moeaki.
Chiseled Broncos’ middle linebacker Joe Mays has a 250-pound frame and the reputation of being a “thumper,” entering his third season in Denver, and he has a message for the rest of the NFL.
“We’re going to be a lot more aggressive this season,” Mays told media members after practice at Dove Valley on Thursday. “We all remember the Orange Crush defense from back in the day, we’re going to try and become that.”
Mays doesn’t have to improve much when it comes to being able to crush an opponent, but the defense as a whole has to improve if they’re going to emulate Denver’s dominating 1970s-through-early-1980s defense that led the team to Super Bowl XII in 1977.
Last season, the Broncos defense ranked 22nd against the run. In ’77, the team ranked 1st in the league.
“You’ve heard the saying, it’s true, the defense, we win championships,” Mays said. “In order for us to win games, the defense is going to be a little more consistent than we were last year, be a lot more aggressive and just make plays.”
Mays and the Broncos are about to enter a six-week stretch of no organized team practices until training camp starts up in late July. When the team returns to the practice field, they’ll work to be ready in time for their Sunday Night Football season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 9th.
“(When we come back), we’re going to continue workings towards our common goal of trying to be a Top 5 defense in the NFL. We’re trying to make it to the championship game, and we’re out here working each and every day to prepare for that, and I think we’ll be ready.”
During the offseason, the Broncos have worked hard to improve the defense — kicking things off by hiring Jack Del Rio, one of the most respected defensive coaches in the game, as the new defensive coordinator. Since then, the team has acquired safety Mike Adams, defensive tackle Justin Bannan, cornerback Drayton Florence and cornerback Tracy Porter through free agency, drafted defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, cornerback Omar Bolden, defensive lineman Malik Jackson and linebacker Danny Trevathan in addition to re-signing defensive lineman Jason Hunter, linebacker Wesley Woodyard and Mays. Lastly, the team signed several defensive college free agents.
Clearly, the team is committed to improving on defense. For the Broncos, improving will start in the trenches — and they’ve got the beef needed to plug some holes this season.
On the defensive line, Hunter, Wolfe, Bannan, Robert Ayers, Ben Garland and Sealver Siliga have all played inside and outside, giving the Broncos flexibility to their rotation that is expected to feature Elvis Dumervil, Ty Warren and Kevin Vickerson this season. According to Dumervil, camp competition has been fierce, with Siliga performing “tremendously.”
Behind the line will be Mays and his fellow linebackers, a unit that helped Von Miller become the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2011. “(Miller and I) are always competing to see who can get to the quarterback first,” said Dumervil after practice Thursday. Last year, Miller and Dumervil combined for 21 sacks and shared sacks on over half a dozen occasions.
Joining Mays and Miller will be Woodyard, D.J. Williams (who is facing a six-game PED suspension) and Trevathan, who has been starting with the nickel defense in practice. In the secondary, their will be tough competition, with the jobs of cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Mike Adams the only positions not up for grabs.
Porter, Florence and Bolden will be competing with returning starting nickel cornerback Chris Harris and Syd’Quan Thompson. “Nobody in the secondary has a job except for Champ Bailey, and that’s obvious, everybody else is just competing for playing time,” Florence stated in May.
At the back-end of the secondary, Adams presumably will be joined by either Rahim Moore or Quinton Carter — both second-year players who will be competing for a starting gig all summer long. Moore admitted earlier in the month that he was “antsy” at times during his rookie season after being unjustly fined in the preseason for a clean hit. “I was trying to avoid losing money and being penalized,” said Moore, who failed to meet the team’s expectations in 2011, possibly due in part to being fined by the league. The team’s other option, Carter, started in ten games last season and recorded 56 tackles. “I made a few plays last season but I left a lot on the field,” Carter said in May, “going into this season, I think my expectations along with my coaches are very high.”
Whether it’s Moore or Carter, Porter or Florence, Denver’s secondary is looking to get the job done and help the team win games. “We’re working towards that,” remarked Carter.
With all of that said, I dare not prevent Mays from having the last word. “(Teams) are definitely going to attack the middle of the defense, whether it’s running up the middle or trying to get a couple of quick passes up the middle, trying to test us linebackers. I just say bring it on. We’re definitely going to be ready.”