Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 7/25/12
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If you are interested in discerning the inspiration behind John Elway’s stewardship of the Denver Broncos, do not look at quarterback Peyton Manning’s former team, as many argue, but instead look at his brother’s current team.
 
That’s right, Elway and head coach John Fox are following the model set by the two-time Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

A balanced but explosive offense led by an elite quarterback and a defense that can disrupt an opponent’s passing game with an intimidating pass rush and a deep, talented secondary. 
 
It is a widely-accepted axiom that the NFL is a copycat league, thus one must be sure that most teams are attempting to incorporate at least some aspects of the Giants’ winning formula into their game plans.
 
Can you blame them?
 
Not only have the Giants won two of the last five Super Bowls but they have done so against what appeared to be insurmountable odds.
 
In their two Super Bowl runs, the G-Men won road playoff games in Dallas, Tampa, San Francisco and Green Bay (twice). And, to take home the Lombardi Trophy, New York twice topped the New England Patriots; the more-explosive, heavily-favored, dare one say sexier, New England Patriots.
 
New York’s offense did not set records for scoring or for yardage. Their quarterback did not toss 50 touchdowns and win the MVP award. Tom Coughlin was not chosen as the NFL’s Coach of the Year.
 
What the Giants were able to do was find different ways to win in a variety of environments. They won outdoors in sub-zero temperatures. They won in domes. They beat physical teams and they beat finesse teams. They won in blowouts, in shootouts and in close games. And most of the time they did so on the road.
 
Balance and adaptability. That’s the model. 
 
And a fearsome pass rush. 
 
A close examination of Denver’s personnel moves by Elway and Fox at the helm, as well as the public statements of both, suggest they desire to follow a Giants-like model.
 
The Broncos did not, as most expected, go after a run-stuffing defensive tackle in the 2012 Draft. Instead they selected Cincinnati’s Derek Wolfe, a player whose best attribute in college was his ability to create a pass rush. Wolfe tallied 19.5 sacks and 37 tackles for loss over the course of his NCAA career.
 
As Fox said after day two of the Draft, “(Wolfe) was very productive as far as creating havoc on the quarterback...I think he was the most productive sack guy of all the tackles in the Draft.”
 
Coupled with their selection of Von Miller in 2011 over the conventional wisdom choice of Marcell Dareus, the run-stuffing defensive tackle from Alabama, it is clear as day that Elway and Fox put an emphasis on getting after the QB. Their instincts were correct last year as Miller tallied 11.5 sacks and won Defensive Rookie of the Year.
 
Denver is counting on Ty Warren, a former five-technique defensive end, to be an anchor in the middle of their line. Warren tallied 7.5 sacks for New England in 2006.
 
Elway also selected Malik Jackson in the fifth round of the 2012 Draft. Jackson, at 284 pounds, can play strongside end or under tackle and notched 13 sacks and 27.5 tackles for loss in college.
 
When coupled with Miller and Elvis Dumervil rushing from the edge, Wolfe, Jackson, Warren and incumbent end Robert Ayers (who moves inside to tackle on passing downs with Miller lined up at left end) allow Fox and new Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to employ their version of the Giants’ famed “four aces” front.  
 
Fox and Elway have both said many times since the conclusion of the 2011 season that the Broncos’ defense struggled when opposing offenses spread them out. Denver, despite their ability to pressure the quarterback from the edge, generated next to no pressure up the middle. Fox believes the team improved their overall ability to get after opposing QBs saying after the Draft, “The best pass defense in the world is a pass rush...we improved that a year ago and hopefully we improved it again this year.”
 
The other facet of a pass defense of course is the secondary.
 
Since taking control of football operation after the 2010 season, Elway has acquired seven new defensive backs – free agents Tracy Porter, Drayton Florence and Mike Adams, draft picks Rahim Moore, Quinton Carter and Omar Bolden and undrafted free agent Chris Harris.
 
Adams is expected to be one of the starting safeties while Carter and Moore will compete in training camp for the other spot. Porter and Florence will fight for the starting cornerback spot opposite future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. Elway was quick to point out after the Draft that he believes Bolden was “a first- or second-round talent,” who fell to the fourth due to an ACL injury, from which the Broncos medical staff believe he is fully recovered.
 
On paper at least, the secondary appears to be one of Denver’s strongest units. The defensive backfield has a nice blend of proven, experienced veterans and young players who only figure to improve over the coming seasons.
 
“You can never have enough good corners, you can never have enough good pass-rushers,” Elway said this offseason. He appears to be following his advice.  
 
Do not expect the Broncos to be as fearsome a team as the Giants right away – in the last 10 drafts the Giants have used 12 first and second-round picks on defensive lineman and defensive backs – what is key is that Elway and Fox are following the New York model.
 
All of Broncos Country hopes this bears fruit, perhaps of the Big Apple variety.

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