TJ Ward: Broncos want to be one of 'top defenses in the world'

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

T.J. Ward plans to change the defensive mindset in Denver. (USATSI)
T.J. Ward plans to change the defensive mindset in Denver. (USATSI)

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Peyton Manning admitted earlier this week that he didn't "really have a word" to describe being on the wrong end of that 43-8 Super Bowl beatdown back in February. General manager John Elway might not have a word for it either, but he spent free agency trying to make sure it never happened again.

The Broncos signed linebacker DeMarcus Ware, safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib to, as Elway described it, add "energy and toughness" to a unit that clearly lacked it on the game's biggest stage.

Ward, who spent the first four years of his career with the Browns, is considered one of the league's best young safeties. And he arrives in Denver with big plans for a defense that was exposed in the Super Bowl.

"I know I can speak for everybody on the defensive side of the ball when I say we're going to make a statement from point go, from the first preseason game," Ward told USAToday.com's Tom Pelissero. "From then on, teams can know what they're up against and know what to expect week-in and week-out. They don't have to just worry about the offense no more."

The two lingering postseason memories for recent Broncos teams include Rahim Moore letting Jacoby Jones get behind him for a touchdown in the January 2013 AFC Divisional game, and the unit's inability to stop the Seahawks' offense two months ago.

Ward's goal is to make Denver's defense as formidable as its offense.

"As good as the Broncos offense was last year, you see what happens when you get put up against a stout defense and an offense that can pretty much manage and make some plays here and there," he said.

"We're sending a message right now that we're coming in not only trying to be one of the top offenses in the league, but one of the top defenses in the world and get that Super Bowl ring."

While not as diplomatic as something Manning might say publicly, it's also not that different.

You have to kind of re-establish your identity of the 2014 team," the 38-year-old quarterback said recently. "The 2013 team was a good season in a lot of ways. There's no question it did not end the way we wanted it to. But we have to try to find a way to build off that, and try to take it a step further, try to finish."

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