Broncos finally have defense-minded coach in Fox

Elway is back in the building and Elvis is back on the

field.

Elvis Dumervil was expecting big things last year after signing

a $58 million contract, but during a routine 1-on-1 drill with

Tyler Polumbus during the first week of training camp, he heard a

pop and felt a sting in the right side of his chest.

He spent his 2011 season recovering from surgery to repair a

torn chest muscle and watching the Broncos wither without him.

They finished last in almost every major defensive category

during a franchise-worst 4-12 debacle that led to Josh McDaniels’

firing. The front-office shake-up brought back Hall of Famer John

Elway as the team’s new chief of football operations.

Elway hired John Fox, Denver’s first defense-minded coach in 17

years.

Although all the national focus has been on the Broncos’

quarterback competition – Kyle Orton won the starting job after

being dangled as trade bait in July when the lockout ended, and

Brady Quinn seems to have surpassed Tim Tebow as his primary backup

– Denver’s defense is really where the fuss is all about.

Just about anytime Fox speaks about improving Denver’s defense,

he starts the conversation with, ”Well, we get Elvis Dumervil

back.”

Even after losing run-stuffer Ty Warren, the team’s key free

agent acquisition and anchor of the 4-3 scheme, to a torn triceps

that will sideline him at least until November, the Broncos are

touting a new nastiness on defense. One of the first items on Fox’s

fix-it list was ditching McDaniels’ 3-4 defensive scheme for the

traditional 4-3 in which former pupils Michael Strahan and Julius

Peppers thrived.

Dumervil was thrilled.

Instead of having to take a crash course at linebacker in the

new staff’s philosophies following the lockout, he went back to his

natural position on the line.

”It’s been awesome because I don’t have to learn so much in

such a short period of time,” Dumervil said. ”So, going back to

defensive end is pretty much at home for me. I don’t have to do

much thinking. I can pretty much just go.”

And he’s bringing with him the knowledge he soaked up at outside

linebacker – such as presnap reads, deciphering formations – where

he led the league with 17 sacks in 2009.

”I see more now,” Dumervil said. ”So, I think it made me a

more educated player.”

When he was done rehabbing, Dumervil went about reshaping his

body, adding 15 pounds of muscle that pushed his weight to 260 in

anticipation of his switch back to end.

And Dumervil just wouldn’t feel at home if he didn’t also have a

new defensive coordinator to work with. Fox hired Dennis Allen,

formerly the New Orleans Saints’ secondary coach, Denver’s sixth

defensive coordinator in six seasons.

Dumervil hasn’t had the same defensive coordinator in

consecutive years since he was still at Jackson High School in

Miami a decade ago.

”You never want to have different defensive coordinators but I

have been able to learn completely different schemes and different

positions,” Dumervil said. ”It makes you more dynamic and more

educated as a football player. You try to pick each coach’s brain

and try to become a better player, not only physically, but

mentally.”

Dumervil finally has a pass-rushing partner, too.

The Broncos selected Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller with

the second overall pick of the draft. Miller lines up on the

opposite side of the formation from Dumervil at right end, forcing

offenses into some tough choices in their protection schemes.

”We have two guys that really have outstanding rush ability off

the edges that can affect the quarterback. I think that’s been

really good for us and we’re going to try to use those guys in a

lot of different ways,” Allen said.

Add in a healthy Robert Ayers at left defensive end – he also

moves inside on third down – and the Broncos have a pass-rushing

corps that Miller has dubbed ”The Legion of Doom.”

Miller reminds many of the late Derrick Thomas of the Kansas

City Chiefs, including Elway.

”Hopefully, he has that kind of career, too,” Elway said.

”He’s got the talent to do it.”

Connect with AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton at

http://twitter.com/arniestapleton