Broncos defensive line benefitting from the Bill Kollar effect

Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar reacts in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have uniquely built a formidable defensive front. Players the NFL passed on now form one of the best defensive lines in the league. That is because of defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who may just be the best positional coach in the NFL.

Kollar is a 37-year NFL coaching veteran with various stops around the league. The former first-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals spent eight seasons as a defensive lineman in the NFL before hitting the coaching circuit.

Kollar demands a lot of his players. He is relentless and vocal. Kollar’s voice heard shouting praise or direction echoes across the practice field. It works, not just for a few players but many.

The intense efforts of Kollar continue to develop and produce impactful players everywhere he has been. From Hall of Famer Chris Doleman to future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt, Kollar has a coaching resume littered with the stars he molded.

The well-regarded Broncos defensive line coach has remained on staff through the last three head coaches (Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio). Kollar’s ability to last is primarily connected with the productivity of his defensive line. A group without a first or second-round selection on it. Roaming the Broncos sidelines since the 2015 Super Bowl season, the boisterous coach consistently gets his position group to perform with or without premier talent.

Kollar has an impact on his group more than any other positional Broncos coach, including Hall of Famer Mike Munchak.

Steady force Mike Purcell and the play-making DeShawn Williams went undrafted and bounced around the league before Kollar made the call.

NFL afterthoughts Shelby Harris and Shamar Stephen are seventh-round selections, added as depth pieces to Denver’s roster through free agency.

McTelvin Agim and Dre’Mont Jones were drafted at the back end of the third round. Both passed on by all 32 NFL teams multiple times.

Needless to say, this group’s success has little to do with being a ‘first-round talent’, and more to do with their mentality. The tenacity and fortitude they get from coach Kollar. Harris summarized the mentality of the group, headed by their position coach.

“We just want to win,” Harris stated when asked about the goals of the defensive line. “Stats come with wins… [and] the only stat that matters [is winning].”

Harris, Purcell, Jones, Williams, Stephen, and Agim may not have been first-round draft picks, but with Kollar’s coaching they make up a phenomenal group.

All were expendable to the rest of the league. Kollar sees something special about each of them no one in the league recognized.

They are not expendable, especially not to Kollar.

They are not just contributors, they are a well-rounded and ferocious group.

“There is nothing expendable about us,” Harris reminded the contingent of media last week. “We are a bunch of dogs.”

The defensive line group has bought into Kollar’s messaging because of their confidence in his coaching. From improved pass rush techniques to anchoring in the running game, the defensive front will do anything necessary to get the job done.

Kollar’s diverse teachings have been beneficial for the entire group. Harris and others have taken specific aspects of Kollar’s coaching to heart, such as knocking down passes. From his time working with Watt in Houston, Kollar has brought that focus to Denver.

His players are aware of the positive impact he makes on their game.

“I have the best defensive line coach in the NFL, Bill Kollar,” Williams said about the impact of coach Kollar on his play. “I’ll say that, and it’s proof in the pudding. I pick his brain on how to pass rush and things like that and it’s helping. I’m seeing a big improvement on that.”

The rest of the coaching staff recognizes the Kollar effect too.

“Bill Kollar is a heck of a coach,” defensive coordinator Ed Donatell told reporters when asked about the clear jump Agim had taken this offseason. “When you put a guy in his room and give him a year and another year, they improve. [When players are coached by Kollar] that’s just what’s happened.”

This training camp was any indication of the impact Kollar has, each one of the six linemen on the Broncos’ roster has shown up and shown out.

However, you will not hear Kollar comfortable with where his group is. He wants more, and like their coach, the group embraces the challenge.

With Kollar’s guidance, the self-proclaimed ‘Bunch of Dogs’ are ready to be unleashed on the league this season.

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