In recent years the NFL has made strides to weed out harmful or risky play in an attempt to “make the game safer.” Most of the time it comes at the expense of defensive players and their coaches. With today’s game being more offensively-minded, there are still top-tier defensive coaches in the league playing important roles in their teams’ success. After all, the Seahawks were one play away from being back-to-back Super Bowl champions due in large part to their defense.

That fact isn’t lost on the Broncos. Denver’s new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips ranked sixth-best among leagues’ top DC’s according to Bucky Brooks of NFL Media. “Phillips has built stellar defenses at nearly every stop,” Brooks said. “He is a creative 3-4 schemer adept at tailoring his system to his talent, allowing his premier playmakers to disrupt the game at every turn.”

That statement couldn’t be more evident than with the success Phillips had with his three year stint with J.J. Watt in Houston. There, Watt notched a stellar 20.5 sacks during the 2014 season and was also named a 2014 First-Team All-Pro. Obviously many of those achievements is due to the physical attributes of the individual player but credit for the system that allowed Watt to have such an opportunity goes to the top defensive man in charge.

The Broncos are no strangers to having great pass rushers. Recently converted linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller and newcomer Shane Ray are all being projected to have career highs under Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.

“The philosophy is all the same,” Ware said in an interview with Albert Breer of the NFL Network. “The main thing is stopping the run, being able to get after the quarterback and really creating big plays to get teams to third-and-long.”

With those strategies in mind, Phillips has been able to make the transition from Jack Del Rio’s defense as seamless as possible while generating a new team work ethic.

“The terminology of what means what has changed but guys are transitioning really well,” Ware said. “It’s more commutative this year from cornerbacks to defensive lineman, everybody is in that yelling pack mode. If you’re not out there communicating together as 11 then you’re not going to be out on the field.”

That hard-noised aggressive defense is a mentality Phillips wants to keep in Denver, building from what he started in Houston.

From 2011 to 2013, Phillips was a DC before then-head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed on the sideline at the end of the first half during a Texans-Colts game making him interim coach in November 2013. He was later relieved from his duties once the regular season concluded.

As most fans know, this isn’t Phillips’ first stint with the Broncos. He was the head of the Broncos defense from 1989-92 and then was head coach during the 1993 and ’94 seasons. During his first tenure with the Broncos the team made the playoffs 3 times, including one Super Bowl appearance – a loss to the New York Giants. John Elway is hoping his second run with the team leads to a Super Bowl victory this time around.

Mike Tolbert, a Mile High Sports intern and Student at MSU-Denver contributed to this report