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Klee: With Peyton Manning window closing, Broncos go big

By: Paul Klee
March 12, 2014 Updated: March 13, 2014 at 9:26 am
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ENGLEWOOD — So, DeMarcus Ware. Is this a Dream Team?

"I wouldn't say that," the former Cowboys star said with a smile.

Phew. The new Broncos passed their first test. No silly guarantees.

The new Broncos know this won't be easy. The old Broncos already learned that, back on a swampy night in New Jersey. Stacks on stacks on stacks of Pro Bowlers guarantee only one thing: a thin wallet.

"I think it's the character of the guys you put together," Ware told me. "They figure out how to make it work."

The 2013 Broncos worked, in an awesome way, for most of 18 games. The 19th offered a thud — and a blueprint.

When the Broncos bulldozed into free agency, they didn't analyze the 15 games they won. They focused on the final game they lost. The Super Bowl-champion Seahawks were the method; the Broncos followed with free-agent madness. On a wild, wealthy Wednesday, John "The Don" Elway and the Denver Yankees did it again. And again, and again.

First came T.J. Ward. Next, Aqib Talib. Last and a beast, Ware. Three's a WOW.

"Brutal nasty," Ware said.

That, too. Here's what it looked like when Dove Valley hosted Christmas in March.

Ward looked like a strong safety who doesn't apologize for hits that earn NFL fines.

"I'm adapting," he said.

Talib looked giddy, like a cornerback released from the Dark Lord of Foxboro's weakening grip.

"I grew up saying, 'I'm Champ Bailey,'" Talib said. "To get a chance to come in after him, I'll just do my best."

The eloquent Ware looked like my old pastor. He spoke like a princely man who might run for office when he runs out of juice. He thanked God, Jerry Jones, the Cowboys, Pat Bowlen, John Fox and Elway a half-dozen times. He vowed to mentor Von Miller. Von and DeMarcus will hunt quarterbacks, from opposite ends.

Meanwhile, Eric Decker signs with the Jets. Read more here.

"You know what?" Ware said. "I see exactly what they (the Broncos) are doing."

What's that?

"They're trying to make a statement. We're a team this year to be reckoned with," Ware said. "They're saying we're going to act right now and not let that happen again."

Not to be nitpicky, but it was the Seahawks who made the statement. They took the NFL's greatest offense and shoved it where the sun doesn't shine. Then they took the Lombardi Trophy home, to where the sun doesn't shine, Seattle.

The Broncos are simply responding to that statement.

"I guess Mr. Elway decided to better his team on defense this year," Talib said. "The offense looks pretty good."

The Talib-Ward-Ware triumvirate has been named to nine Pro Bowls. It gathered $60 million, guaranteed. It arrived in threes: Swat, smack, smother.

It props open the Peyton Window, just enough so another Super Bowl trophy can blow through. It showed the Broncos don't settle for 13-3, the AFC's top seed and a Super Bowl berth. Pat Bowlen doesn't hang banners for second.

But what they really did was counter the Seahawks. The AFC already was Denver's to lose.

I asked the three new Broncos if they watched the Super Bowl. And by the way, what did you think?

"I think it started bad, to begin with. But I think Seattle was just a little more physical," Ward said. "We're preparing ourselves right now to combat that against every team. I think that's why me, Talib and Ware were brought in here."

"The way the Seattle Seahawks played, you can see the tenacity they brought to the game. They were a force to be reckoned with," Ware said. "The Broncos really saw that. They're doing the same thing."

Talib had the best answer.

"I didn't really see too much of it," he said.

The Broncos addressed their checkbook. Did they address their needs?

For better or worse, they swapped Shaun Phillips for Ware, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for Talib. Both are upgrades, but parallel pieces.

The outlier, the real gem, is Ward. He arrives at a bargain and talks like the thumper so dearly missed in their secondary since John Lynch, Brian Dawkins, Steve Atwater or Dennis Smith.

"We're three physical players," Ward said. "It's going to help this defense. It's going to help this team."

The AFC is chasing the Broncos. The Broncos are chasing the Peyton Manning Window.

"Their mentality is a 'now' mentality," Ware said. "They're not looking forward to the next season or the season after that."

At some point, and don't tell him this, the Peyton Window will close. At some point, it's coming. Unless he's a robot, and that's possible, too.

But until that point, the Broncos will make the most of it. They will surround the ultimate quarterback with the ultimate cast, and, it's quite clear, the ultimate payroll. Their dynamic, daring moves in free agency announced as much:

Right there with you, Seattle.

The rest of you? Try to keep up.


Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

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