I was one fan that was absolutely ecstatic to hear about the signing of Brian Dawkins.
I know he is a little bit older in age and isn't the long term answer. He brings something very important to a new defense looking for answers.
Ever since our beloved Al Wilson went down on December, 3 2006, we have not had a clear cut leader on defense.
In 2005, Denver went 13-3, had 258 PA/13.1 ppg (third in the league), a differential of 137 points (third in the league), and a takeaway differential of +20 (second in the league).
In 2006, they went 9-7. The Broncos had 305 PA/19.1 ppg (8th), a differential of 14 points (14th), and their takeaway differential was 17th in the league
I know we didn't make the playoffs in 2006, but our defense was a lot better than in '08-'09. In 2008, we didn't rank in the top 25 in any of these categories except for differential. The rest of the stats were 30th or above.
Needless to say, when we lost our leader in Wilson, we lost more than just a player.
Now with Brian Dawkins, Weapon X, stepping onto the field for the Broncos, we have that vocal leader back on the field.
When I read reports of Dawkins doing push-ups on the practice field because he "only" broke up a pass when he knew he could have intercepted it, I get excited about this defense.
We drafted a lot of young talent on defense. Ayers, McBath, Smith and Bruton are all getting the role model they need in Dawkins. Whether or not they play the same position, they are seeing what Dawkins does.
A player of Dawkins's caliber is what Mike Nolan was looking for and definitely what I, as a fan, was looking for. He will hold everyone accountable on the defense and we haven't had that in awhile.
We finally have someone to bring back the hunger in the defense. Dawkins is the type of player that, when you look across the field, you know they are going to give 100 percent every down on any given day.
With Bailey, Dawkins, Hill, Goodman, and Smith or Williams in the nickel, I like the secondary a lot, definitely a lot more than I did last year with Bly, John, and Doe playing safety.
Taking age into consideration, I am hoping Denver is able to stay healthy on both sides of the ball. That is definitely key to our defense as it is every team.
Denver only had 23 sacks last year. Demarcus Ware almost had more than that by himself. Our defense should be able to get more pressure with Mike Nolan wanting to be physical and attack this year.
In our 4-3 defense of previous years, we relied on speed. We have added some more bulk this year. We have an average of 15 more pounds on the defensive line (302 lbs.) and the linebacking corps increased their average by 20 (256 lbs.).
I am not yet sold on our defense completely turning things around by any means, and we may not have a bunch of high profile names on our defense, but what we do have is a lot of people out to prove themselves.
As I stated previously, we were almost last in the league in several defensive categories and our offense was 16th in scoring.
Our defense can NOT get worse. I don't see how it could, so a small improvement in defense, say moving within the 15-24 in overall rankings, and some improvement in scoring, which should happen under McDaniels, is all we need.
I am excited about what this Broncos squad will bring to the table in 2009.