While the Denver Broncos’ offense has undergone a few personnel changes here and there, the defense is almost an entirely different unit from the one the Seahawks saw in the Super Bowl.
The secondary is completely changed, with physical cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward coming in and cornerback Chris Harris and safety Rahim Moore returning from injuries. Defensive end Derek Wolfe and linebacker Von Miller also are healthy, and DeMarcus Ware signed on to replace Shaun Phillips opposite Miller.
“It’s a totally different team defensively for us,” Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said Wednesday. “They’ve added really great players. They get Von Miller back, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib — the list goes on. They have really solid players. It’s a completely different defense with the players that they have now, so there’s really no comparison.”
“I think their style of play seems the same,” coach Pete Carroll said, “but they’ve added a couple guys. DeMarcus Ware is a great football player and Von Miller is back. … Both of those guys will be on both sides on third down and they’ll be bringing it, so that’s a big challenge for us.”
The Seahawks had trouble at times against San Diego’s pass rush, and Bevell said the Hawks would offer help to their tackles and change up protection schemes.
The Broncos’ new-look defense has had mixed success in the first two games. The secondary obviously is still coming together. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck burned it for 370 passing yards in the opener, and Alex Smith and the pedestrian KC passing attack tallied 255 yards. The Chiefs also ran for 133 yards — 42 by Smith — and were knocking on the door at the end of the game, trying to tie it.
But the Broncos have shown the penchant for big plays. They stopped the Colts’ comeback late in the fourth quarter and knocked down Smith’s fourth-down pass from the 2-yard line to preserve a 24-17 win over the Chiefs. Talib and Ware both had big plays wiped out in that game — Talib’s interception for a TD was nixed by an encroachment foul and Ware’s strip sack was overturned on review.
“They are playing with a lot of confidence,” Carroll said. “They break on the football really well. They’re really disciplined about the way that they play. They don’t give you anything.
“I think the whole team is really structured really well. They know they have this potent offense going and they’re doing a really good job of playing base defense in a way that we admire because we kind of think the same about that. They’re doing a great job back there so far, and we expect it to be hard.”