We're seeing it already. 7 sacks in only 74 plays during Saturday's scrimmage. Not too shabby? Now I know defenses are generally ahead of offenses at this point in training camp. But keep a few things in mind. We have already had a little over 700 reps in training camp (according to coach Sparano). We should be starting to see the offense catch up to the defense at this point. Another thing to keep in mind is this offense is supposed to be better than this defense. We have too many questions on defense, right? Will our sophomore cornerbacks improve from their promising rookie season? How will inexperienced young Chris Clemons play as our centerfielder? How will we create pressure after losing both Joey Porter and Jason Taylor? Can undersized Randy Starks hold up in the middle of the trenches? Mike Nolan can and will answer all these questions (along with the help of some talented young players).
Last year around this time, Mike Nolan was improving an undersized defense that was fit to play a 4-3. This defense was ranked as the second worst defense in terms of points per game (28.0), and had given up nearly 400 yards per game. It was ranked tied for second worse in yards per play (6.1). Asking that defense to improve any in the midst of a switch to a 3-4 is insane, right? Not for Mike Nolan. Mike Nolan didn't just improve this defense by a little, he turned it into a very good defense. Mike Nolan came to Denver, and improved that defense to the 12th best scoring defense in the league, given up nearly 8 points less. The defense improved by about 50 yards/game. The defense improved from given up 6.1 yards/play to 5.0 yards/play. Improving by slightly more than a yard per play. Mike Nolan did this all with a defense undersized and not fit to his scheme. Our defense has more talent, and is cleary fit for a 3-4 as we have been playing it since you-know-who came here.
Some of you might remember in my previous post I talked about four players (Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, Randy Starks, Jared Odrick) whom I feel will fit and perform well in our 3-4 defense. I gave you reasons why I'm confident in these players to perform their duties that included recent performance, versatility, physical abilities. I failed to mention my most confident reason that these players will succeed: Mike Nolan. A coach's job is to put his players in their best position to succeed. It sounds so simple, but very few coaches make an effort to do it. I'm confident that Mike Nolan will put his players in the best position to succeed. He's done it before, and is notoriously known as a coach whom adjusts to his players' skill set (Channing Crowder just did an interview in which he compliments that aspect of Mike Nolan)
A recent comment on here made by a Jets fans talk refers to how no one (including Jets fan) expected the Jets to have the number one ranked defense. Everybody underestimated the addition of Rex Ryan's great defensive mind. I get the feeling that a lot of fans are doing the same thing with Mike Nolan this year. With the great parity that there is NFL today, such a high emphasis is placed on coaching. The difference between a good defense and a poor one in terms of scoring is 5 or 6 points per game. Mike Nolan can improve our defense by five or six points.
Everyday in practice we hear about the sacks, break-ups, interceptions. Mike Nolan's defense is already creating havoc in practice. Some of you got to witness first-hand the defense wreak havoc during the scrimmage. I cannot wait till that same defense gives opposing quarterbacks headaches (due to both mental confusion and physical beatings). This is not a post to hit the panic button on the offense just yet. I still think the offense will be very good, and probably better than the defense in all likelihood. It is merely a post for those of you thinking this defense cannot become a top 10 defense. I've heard it plenty of times this offseason, and you may want to change your thought-process. Or maybe Mike Nolan will during the season?