Denver's climb starts with D

With Peyton Manning running the show now, the Denver Broncos' offense gets most of the attention and publicity -- and that is certainly fair -- but if you focus on only one side of the ball, you're going to miss a key part of Denver's resurgence. What I found when I broke down Denver's defense was really surprising. This may be the most improved unit in the NFL from a year ago.

What strikes you on film is how fast the Broncos' defense plays, how the players can mix and match their pressures and schemes, how fundamentally sound they are ... and most surprising is how much depth the Broncos have and how many players are making contributions.

Let's look at them on all three levels and get to know this defense a little better.

Defensive line

The Broncos have made a nice transition under coordinator Jack Del Rio from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front and they are playing it much better than most people expected.