Vance Joseph strolled into the media room at the Broncos’ Dove Valley training facility to introduce a man who, in size alone, needed no introduction. It was mid-March and only four days had passed since NFL free agency began. The Broncos had already signed 635 pounds to their offensive line in guard Ron Leary and tackle Menelik Watson, and now were ready to unveil to the media nearly 660 pounds added to the defensive line in Zach Kerr and Domata Peko. “I was with Domata for two seasons in (Cincinnati),” Joseph said then. “He’s a guy that has missed (five) games in his entire career. He’s played every game for seven straight years. He’s a big man. We got bigger on both sides of the ball. That was our goal.” That day was when the Broncos’ defense found its missing piece. Peko, a 325-pound noseguard with an enduring smile, has been the spark to the unit’s latest facelift. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does in the run defense. We got the No. 1 run defense and that’s mainly because of how beastly Peko is,” all-pro outside linebacker Von Miller said. “If you watch the coaches’ film, he’s got two guys on him and he just throws them off. That allows (Derek) Wolfe to be the type of player we all know he can be. So, first and foremost, he’s a beast on the football field and a huge catalyst on our success when it comes to run defense and total defense.” Last year, the Broncos’ tumbled to 28th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 130.3 yards per game. Through four games this season, they’ve led the league with an average of just 50.8 yards allowed on the ground. They held Melvin Gordon to 54 yards in Week 1, shut down Ezekiel Elliott in Week 2 (9 carries, 8 yards), stifled LeSean McCoy in Week 3 (14 carries, 21 yards) and made Marshawn Lynch irrelevant in Week 4 (9 carries, 12 yards).
One key signing in March helped Broncos’ defense reach new heights
Denver Post | Oct 5