SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- One of the more memorable conversations I've had this week was with an NFL coach who shredded the entire concept of Pro Football Focus.
When I asked if he or his fellow assistants leaned on the metrics site for input, he laughed out loud, saying: "Absolutely not."
It's not a shocking take from a pro coach. These men spend hundreds of hours pouring through game film to separate the cream from the crap.
Still, coaches and analytics-heads can agree on this: Denver's pass-rushing duo of Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have the potential to wreak havoc in Super Bowl 50 against the Panthers. After NFL Media's Michael Silver penned a stellar take on the two, we decided to ask their peers and coaches about what makes the pair tick.
"DeMarcus Ware's as good as they get," said Broncos outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac. "He's a great person. Loves the game of football. He's a pro's pro, he's been doing it a long time. He'll be in the Hall of Fame someday. Von might as good an athlete as I've been around in 37 years of coaching. Great person. Loves the game and can't help but absorb some of the stuff D-Ware's done, so it has to be a great, great tool for Von."
"It's amazing. I feel like they're two of the best," said Ray. "To see how they prepare, to see how they attack guys. It helps me a whole lot. I feel like a lot of guys when they come into the league, they got to figure out everything on their own. I got two of the best in my room every day, so I can see what I need to do to be great."
"I coached Ware when he had his most productive time in the NFL ... Twenty-sack season. Fifteen sacks," Herring said. "The special thing about him is great athleticism, great get off, great bend, great instincts how to stop on a dime off what he sees and feels. Pass rush is not a predetermined thing. It's a feel. You don't know what kind of pass you're going to get. Normal set, over set or a jump set. There's all kinds of passes that you get. You can't predetermine, 'I'm just gonna haul ass and go sack somebody.' You have to have a plan or a concept and feel of how to deal with certain looks and blocks."
Said Herring: "Ware has an incredible instinctive feel for a pass rush on when to counter, on when not to counter. Incredible get off, quickness, athletic ability and feel for how to manipulate and counter moves off certain blocks. That's what separates D-Ware and Von from everybody else in the Pro Bowl that's got the same stats. There's other guys like that, but they're not all like that."
As for Miller, Herring called him an "incredible talent," saying: "He reminds me of D-Ware when he was young."
Denver wouldn't be here were it not for the special campaigns Miller and Ware and put together this season. Like Carolina, Denver rolls into Super Bowl 50 with a defense that has a chance to be remembered as a special group.
How special? As Pagac said with a smile, "We'll let you know after Sunday."