COMMENTARY | Hanging Joe Flacco's picture on a banner on the side of Sports Authority Field is not what should enrage fans of the Denver Broncos.
Seeing former Broncos linebacker Elvis Dumervil in purple and black is something worth getting upset over.
Dumervil makes his first return to Denver on Thursday since the spring's infamous fax-gate drama. That drama, of course, resulted when the Broncos wanted Dumervil to restructure his contract and the two sides agreed to a deal, only for the fax to miss the deadline to the league's office.
Even with all of the other Broncos' problems this offseason, the loss of Dumervil remains the team's biggest mistake.
And it's going to cost the Broncos.
"The villain? The Broncos. Man, I'm looking forward to it," Dumervil told reporters. "It's different. I've been in Denver for the first seven years of my career. Going there in the visiting locker room is going to definitely be different. I'm happy to be a Raven. The decision was on me, and I feel happy about it."
In January's divisional playoff game, one of the key reasons that the Ravens upset the Broncos was due to the physicality of Baltimore's defensive line. Peyton Manning saw himself sacked three times, and he also threw two interceptions while under pressure. Last season, the Broncos failed to win a game in which Manning was sacked at least three times.
Dumervil's addition to the Ravens only adds to that physicality. The seventh-year pass-rusher will play mostly in passing situations, where he'll line up opposite of Terrell Suggs in the nickel formation. Both players add a versatility that will cause major headaches for opposing teams this season.
"Elvis is a dominant pass-rusher, and together with Terell Suggs, they're going to be a deadly combination off the edge," said Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw. "He's definitely ready for this game. Elvis is going to want to go back there and have a good game against them."
It's also worth mentioning that Denver's offensive line is one of the biggest question marks on the team. While All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady is finally healthy, injuries have plagued the center and guard positions. Even if Dumervil doesn't end up with a sack in the season opener, he creates enough of a distraction that someone like defensive tackle Haloti Ngata to break through.
However, it's Dumervil's absence defensively that will cost the Broncos. Last year, Dumervil accounted for 11 sacks and drew enough attention for Von Miller to shine. Miller earned 18.5 sacks and caused six forced fumbles, making "Von Doom" one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL.
Dumervil's loss becomes even worse with Miller also suspended six games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Now, the Broncos must find a way to replace the players largely responsible for leading the team in sacks last season.
This offseason, the Broncos endured Von Miller's immaturity. The team had embarrassing arrests with two front office members. Those problems, while headaches, can be fixed with time and a public relations staff.
The on-the-field damage caused by Dumervil's exit, however, is a much more serious problem.
Matthew Paras is a Journalism Major at DePaul University. He writes for multiple outlets, including Maxboxing.com, Operationsports.com, and DePaul's student newspaper, The DePaulia. He can be reached by email at Mparas1432@gmail.com or on twitter @Matthew_Paras. He currently resides in Chicago, but lived in Littleton, Colo. for seven years.
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