Last season Denver Broncos opponents could avoid the "No Fly Zone" by gashing the defense on the ground.
Vance Joseph's team slammed that door shut in 2017. The emphatic dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, including holding Ezekiel Elliott to eight rushing yards on nine carries, the Denver D made a statement.
"There's no defense in the NFL like us. We're the best. I'm not saying it ever left. We just let it slip a little," Marshall said, noting the disappointing run defense from a year ago. "But we're back. We're back."
The secondary was its normal buzzing self, but it was the dominant front seven that is the story of the day. Marshall corralled seven tackles, Von Miller added two late sacks of Dak Prescott. Perhaps the biggest difference between 2016 and 2017 is the play of Shaquil Barrett. Playing opposite Miller, Barrett was a force, with seven tackles and nine QB pressures, per Pro Football Focus.
Denver tossed the kitchen sink at the Cowboys' ballyhooed offensive line and won time after time. Being able to trust your defensive backs to make plays on an island allowed the Broncos to pressure the run and not get burned.
"We slammed that box, man," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "I was saying it all week. Now, I didn't tell y'all, but we knew Dak was going to have to throw for 300 yards to beat us. And we knew that wasn't going to happen."
With a shutdown secondary, swarming pass rush, stout run D, yard-churning running game on offense, and steady, heady quarterback play from Trevor Siemian, the Broncos look like a team built for a deep run into January.