ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In a team meeting Thursday morning, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak started to list some of what is on DeMarcus Ware’s football resume.
Things like 130.5 career sacks – 13th all time – eight Pro Bowl selections, four first-team All Pro selections and a selection on the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 2000s.
But nowhere to be found in all of that was either an AFC or NFC Defensive Player of the Month honor, not even in a 20-sack season in 2008 with the Dallas Cowboys or a 15.5-sack season in 2010 or a 19.5-sack season in 2011. Ware was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for September on Thursday with his 3.5 sacks in the Broncos’ three wins – he’s the only player in the league with a sack in each of the first three games of the season.
“This morning with the team I read off a list of things he’s accomplished in his career, but that one wasn’t on the list until today," said Broncos coach Gary Kubiak following Thursday’s practice. “ … True pro."
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said the fact Ware had never won the monthly award was worthy of a double take.
“He’s an amazing guy. I’ve been lucky to coach him twice now," Phillips said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with the Dallas [Cowboys] PR or whatever, he had 20 sacks, he tied Simon Fletcher’s record for 10 straight games with sacks when [he was] in Dallas, so how he wasn’t defensive player of the month amazes me, but that’s Jerry Jones’ problem. [So] it did surprise me … You just look at the numbers now, Von Miller’s a great player and he’s got 50 sacks. DeMarcus has got 130."
Ware said he hadn't noticed the oversight over the years.
"I didn't even know anything about it," Ware said. "I just think about consistency and trying to just play well throughout the whole season and that's just the first half. I sort of split the season into four quarters. It's the first quarter now, but you have to start thinking about October. This league is, 'What have you done for me lately?' You have to sort of scratch September, think about it, how you played and what you do to get better for October."
Ware played the most snaps of any Broncos’ defensive linemen in 2014. He lined up at defensive end in the team’s 4-3 defense and wore down a bit in 2014, with just three sacks in the last 10 games of the regular season. So the Broncos have tried to manage the snaps for both Ware and Miller by using rookie Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett in the two outside linebacker spots at times.
At 33 years old, a move back to outside linebacker has helped Ware as well. At linebacker he’s not consistently in a three-point stance wrestling with offensive tackles on every play, especially on early downs.
“I was kind of talking to the players after practice [Thursday], you watch guys go through the grind and stuff, and you watch how he takes care of himself, how much he loves to play," Kubiak said. “I was preaching to young players [Thursday], you need to look at guys like that because those guys that last that long they usually last for a reason and they’re usually made with a ton of class," Kubiak said.