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Super Bowl 2016: Von Miller and the Broncos defensive line eyeing 'another chance at greatness'

The Broncos defensive line just keeps doing the same thing it's been doing every week all season long. They're counting on that basic approach to bring home a Lombardi Trophy.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Strokes of signature NFL coaches Jerry Glanville, John McKay and Dan Reeves are evident in the Denver Broncos' mauling defensive line. That imprint flows from current Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar. Kollar was influenced by those men during his 27-year NFL coaching career.

Kollar's mark is all over this line.

He has a salty mouth and a booming voice and fanciful way of driving players to a higher level. This Broncos defensive front has a salty game and a big say in how Super Bowl 50 will be played. This group sparked Denver to the league's No. 1 defense and tops in sacks (52 in the regular season and seven more in the postseason).

Kollar joined the Broncos last year, from Houston. Texans coach Bill O'Brien let him go.

"I was under contract," Kollar said. "My kids were in Denver, my grandkids. I've coached a long time in this league. I wanted to see my grandkids grow. Bill was understanding enough to let that happen. I can't thank him enough for it."

O'Brien, honorably, let a fanatical, superb coach go. Kollar joined defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, head coach Gary Kubiak and the rest of the defensive staff in building a Denver defense that snarled.

The base of it became three down linemen. But the Broncos also utilize four down linemen. When it's three up front, left to right it's Malik Jackson, Sly Williams and Derek Wolfe. When it's four, left to right it's Von Miller, Wolfe, Jackson and DeMarcus Ware. The primary reserves are Vance Walker, Antonio Smith, Shaq Barrett and rookie Shane Ray.

"You can't have a pass rush without talent," said Phillips, who does not hesitate to mix and match, flip and flop, move his gems around. "These guys are good."

Kollar helps keep their fires lit.

Wolfe said: "He (Kollar) forces you to be great."

This is a group that has absorbed coaching and then worked among themselves to create a union. They complement each other on the field and they communicate effectively during practices and in games.

Complementing and communicating do not come easily among any NFL unit. It starts with coaching but it never happens without players taking ownership.

"I would say we do a lot of work, we communicate very well," Ray said. "Some pass rush teams, you've got one guy who just does whatever. But with us, collectively, every guy that's on the line, including the outside linebackers, we communicate on our pass rush plan and we stick to it and execute it. We work really hard on that, especially on our stunts, our games. You've just got guys who win one-on-one battles, that's what it comes down to. Our secondary gives us plenty of time to get to the quarterback. That always helps."

Each of these linemen exhibits extraordinary will in winning matchups. Each focuses on technique.

Wolfe is fourth-year player who is quickly emerging. The Panthers have noticed his motor, power and desire.

"I had a coach tell me a long time ago that half the battle is hustle," Wolfe said. "I focus on three things: 1.) Get Off -- I watch what the offensive lineman does. I focus on his back foot. My get off comes from that. 2.) Hands -- The first thing the lineman wants to do to you is get his hands into your chest. You have to get your hands moving first to avoid that. 3.) Hips -- Gotta focus on that, quick action there, to get around those guys. All of our guys practice strong techniques."

Kollar emphasizes technique. Phillips mandates it.

"We teach pass rush," Phillips said. "We teach how to rush the passer. We teach how to play techniques. We're a big fundamental team on how you do things, not just let them go and say, `Hey, you rush the passer.' It's how you rush the passer, what your strengths are and how to utilize those strengths."

Phillips says attacking pass protections smartly is "the name of the game." He wants to create mismatches in Denver's Super Bowl 50 pass rush. He wants Miller and Ware and others seeking sacks to be frequently matched against backs and tight ends trying to block them. He knows against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton that the Denver pass rush must be resilient and disciplined.

Newton is such a running threat that Phillips says his defense will tweak the rush but not gut what they do. Phillips is more concerned about those plays where the Panthers use max protection, send out only three receivers, Newton evades the rush, extends the play, the receivers free lance and the Broncos get burned.

There is only so much even a No. 1 defense can do against organic offensive creativity.

"You know," said Ware, "Cam Newton is a challenge. He's one of those guys where he is sort of two players in one."

Ware is talking about the artful passing, the bold running of Newton.

"I know he (Phillips) has a lot of tricks up his sleeve on what he's going to bring to this game," Ware said.

Phillips and Kollar will stoke the Denver defense with confidence. Ware and the rest will complement and communicate. And linebacker Von Miller will rev it all.

"I'm watching film," Miller said. "Everything we need to see -- everything that we need to know -- is right there on the game film, and that's what we've been watching. It's a unique opportunity to go against a great quarterback. We have a great defense. They have a great offense. It's another chance at greatness."