DeMarcus Ware boosting loaded Broncos defense
Let’s be honest: the first 805 snaps of OLB DeMarcus Ware’s tenure with the Denver Broncos were average, at best. There were some nice moments, but he wasn’t the player Cowboys fans cheered on for years.
His +4.4 overall grade entering the season, with a negative (-0.1) pass rush score, indicated that perhaps the best days of Ware were behind him. Gone was the kind of explosion that propelled him to five top three finishes between 2007 and 2012 in our 3-4 outside linebackers rankings, replaced with something far different. So, we didn’t blame those who had chalked up another victory for Father Time.
Only, while Ware went down, he wasn’t out for the count. Indeed, on the evidence of his mauling of the Ravens line, he’s found something of a second wind, and is determined to make the most of it.
Of all the fantastic performances of Week 1, it is that of Ware’s (+9.4, top among 3-4 defense OLBs) that stood out the most—partly because it wasn’t one anyone really saw coming, but also because of the sheer relentlessness of it. Sure, his stock got a bonus when Ravens OT Eugene Monroe (who he’d already destroyed for a hit) went down, but even against a tackle like Baltimore’s James Hurst, you don’t expect a player to pick up 11 quarterback disruptions on just 24 pass rushing snaps.
There’s no surprise that the Week 1 -9.1 grade was the worst of Hurst’s young career, as he was regularly taken to the woodshed by the rejuvenated Ware. Now, it remains to be seen if this was just a case of an inspired day against inferior opposition. His next outing against Kansas City’s Donald Stephenson or Eric Fisher is unlikely to tell us if this is case, but as the season, develops it’s a story to watch.
Is the DeMarcus Ware that was once so feared back? If so, when you put him together with OLB Von Miller, DE Malik Jackson, ILB Brandon Marshall, CB Chris Harris, and CB Aqib Talib, you stop talking about Peyton Manning as the key to the Broncos season, and start looking at what is a truly fearsome defense.