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Broncos look to give Manning improved pass defense

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Posted June 21, 2012 @ 2:13 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

You’re going to hear a lot about the “Peyton Manning Effect” this fall in Denver, and it’s already taken shape following Broncos minicamp. The ease at which the future Hall of Famer can run an offense should do wonders for Denver’s attack, but it will also make an impact on the defense.

From 1998-2010, the Colts’ defense ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed only twice. In that span, they won one Super Bowl and made the playoffs 11 times. Manning’s ability to put up points helped take pressure off his defenses, allowing players like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis to pin their ears back and rush the passers.

In Denver, we hear that Manning’s role working with Mike McCoy and the offense has benefitted the “D” by giving John Fox more time to pay attention to that side of the ball, which has a new coordinator in Jack Del Rio. The Broncos will be more aggressive on defense under Del Rio, and have the pass rushers to complement what Manning will do on offense in the form of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.

Getting after the quarterback wasn’t a huge concern for Denver in 2011 — the Broncos were tied for 10th in the league with 41 sacks — but high-powered passing offenses had their way with Denver’s secondary. The Bills, Lions, Packers and Patriots (twice) all scored at least 40 points against the Broncos. If Manning gets the Broncos leads, the pass defense will need to improve to maintain them.

The Broncos needed to add depth at cornerback, and they did in a big way in free agency, signing Tracy Porter and Drayton Florence to join Champ Bailey. That knocks Chris Harris, who showed flashes last season as a rookie, to the No. 4 corner role. If fourth-round CB Omar Bolden can stay injury-free, suddenly the Broncos have plenty of depth at corner to compete with the spread attacks in today’s NFL, and that kind of talent at corner is not something Manning was used to in Indy.

The safety position has question marks after Brian Dawkins’ retirement. Dawkins’ skills weren’t what they used to be, but the Broncos still have to try to replace his leadership in the back end. The Broncos brought in ex-Brown Mike Adams, who is more of a free safety and started every game last season with Cleveland. The starter opposite him will likely be Quinton Carter, and we hear the hope is Carter or 2011 second-rounder Rahim Moore — who disappointed as a rookie — emerges as a clear-cut starter. 

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