On Dec. 16, 2012, the Ravens lined up Michael Oher, Jah Reid, Matt Birk, Bobbie Williams and Kelechi Osemele along their offensive line when they faced the Broncos in Baltimore and lost 34-17. Less than a month later, in the playoffs against the Broncos, Baltimore's line had Bryant McKinnie and Marshal Yanda replacing Williams and Reid. The Ravens upset the Broncos and three weeks later, that same line was on the field as celebrations of their Super Bowl title began at the Superdome. Take note, Broncos defense. It might not be too late to change. Sure, one group is a hulking bunch of monsters charged with protecting quarterbacks, the other a hodgepodge of bulk and speed charged with stopping the other team, but on a more basic level, this is about change, not personnel. It's Week 15. The playoffs are less than a month away, and the Broncos' defense is virtually unrecognizable from the group that took the field in Week 1 — and that was without Champ Bailey. Let's forget for a moment about injuries and illnesses, although the list is long, with Bailey, Derek Wolfe, Kevin Vickerson and Rahim Moore being the biggest losses. Instead, let's look at change for the sake of change, or for the sake of improvement, which these Broncos embraced wholeheartedly against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, when the coaches benched linebacker Wesley Woodyard and safety Duke Ihenacho, both season-long starters, for Paris Lenon and Omar Bolden, respectively. "Some of this is giving guys opportunities to see what they can do," coach John Fox said. "We try to get better every day and every week as we move closer to the end of the season. Our agenda is to get better every day." Read between the lines. As much as Fox is talking about guys such as Lenon and Bolden earning time, he's also talking about the need for the team to get better and players don't earn playing time at the expense of others who are playing well. Ihenacho, a second-year player, is young and has faltered of late, so slotting Bolden, another young player, in his place wasn't exactly baffling. Woodyard's removal, though, has raised a few eyebrows.
Broncos' defense virtually unrecognizable with playoffs around corner
Denver Post | Dec 11