Peyton Manning hoisted his second Lombardi Trophy thanks to a spectacular defense, and Denver Broncos general manager John Elway said the 2015 unit is in the conversation as the best ever.
According to the Denver Post, Elway said he’s biased but is glad he never played this defense during his NFL career.
“To me, to sit here and say, if you look at it, if you look at the performance in that Super Bowl, they are in the argument to be one of the best ever. It’s hard to say that they’re going to be that, but they’re in the argument, which is a (great) compliment to them.”
Recent candidates for “best defense ever” include the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 2000 Baltimore Ravens, while the 1985 Chicago Bears and 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers are the classic favorites.
But instead of comparing defenses separated by 40 years and countless schematic and philosophy changes, let’s do something that is vastly under-appreciated in today’s hot-take era: Applaud the 2015 team, period.
Denver earned that Super Bowl victory despite its offense, and that was the storyline all season long.
The Broncos held Green Bay Packers quarterback (and then-reigning MVP) Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards, eventually finishing the regular season as the No. 1 defense against the aerial attack.
It started up front with edge-rushers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, who shined during the Super Bowl. The duo combined for 4.5 sacks against Carolina, ending the campaign with a combined 27 total sacks including playoffs. Malik Jackson, Sylvester Williams and Derek Wolfe were also strong on the D-line.
Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan emerged as one of the NFL’s most consistent 3-4 middle linebacker combinations, and Shaquil Barrett regularly contributed in a smaller role.
The secondary boasted the league’s best cornerback trio in Chris Harris Jr., Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby. Safeties T.J. Ward, Darian Stewart and David Bruton rounded out the tremendous defense.
Reporters badgered Cam Newton during the postgame press conference with questions about the Broncos’ defensive changes for the Super Bowl. The problem? Denver didn’t switch a thing. No wonder he was so upset.
After all, that was how the Broncos played all season, frustrating opposing quarterbacks en route to handing Manning a storybook ending.