Broncos’ Bly watches old team win
Vail, CO Colorado
ENGLEWOOD ” Dre’ Bly was backpedaling Wednesday, and this time it had nothing to do with facing Brett Favre.
Bly, burned by Favre’s 82-yard touchdown toss in overtime Monday night, gets to visit his old team Sunday when the nose-diving Denver Broncos (3-4) visit the surging Detroit Lions (5-2).
The Broncos obtained Bly from the Lions last winter for running back Tatum Bell, offensive lineman George Foster and a fifth-round draft pick after the death of starting cornerback Darrent Williams.
He compared his arrival in Denver to his four-year stint in St. Louis, where the Rams went 44-20 with two trips to the Super Bowl and one championship. And he said he was glad to put his dreary days in Detroit behind him. There, he had suffered through a 19-45 record, never winning more than six games in a season.
“We had good teammates there, but not winning, being at the bottom of the barrel, is tough,” he said at the time.
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The Lions are nearer to the top of the barrel now, and the Broncos are struggling, dropping four of their last five heading into a stretch in which they play four of five on the road.
“We didn’t expect to be 3-4 right now but it’s early in the season,” Bly said Wednesday. “In Detroit … they’re playing well. But if you don’t finish, the early record doesn’t really matter.
“But I know those guys are excited about being 5-2. They’ve played better and they seem to have bought into (coach Rod) Marinelli’s system, so the record shows.”
Bly was miscast in the Lions’ cover-2 scheme in which the wiry 188-pounder played more like a linebacker. Now, he’s back to being a cover cornerback and teaming with seven-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey to form one of the best tandems in the NFL.
Both Bailey (79 yards) and Bly were torched by Favre for long touchdown passes Monday night, the first time an opponent has successfully picked on the duo that has a combined 10 trips to the Pro Bowl. Neither Bly (chest) nor Bailey (thigh) would blame nagging injuries for getting burned deep.
Now, Bly is playing his former team, he’s coming off a tough loss in which he was the scapegoat and he’s trying to hold together things on a dismal defense that is last against the run and suddenly saw holes poked through its pass defense.
“Oh, no pressure on me,” Bly said. “Pressure is what I do. I play cornerback. So, I mean, that’s every day, every snap. There’s no added pressure. I’ve performed under pressure my whole career. Going back to Detroit playing my former team? I played a lot of great games in that building and performed well for those fans. So, I’ll be relaxed just as anybody. So, I’m not going to worry at all.
“I practiced against this offense every day last year, so I’m pretty familiar with the offense, pretty familiar with the guys. They’re familiar with me. So, it’s nothing. Just like going out and playing sandlot.”
Bly disputed a story out of Michigan this week that he had been divisive in the Lions’ locker room.
“That’s bogus,” he said. “That’s basically a lie. I bought into a system, I was defensive captain. Whoever wrote that, that’s baloney. Me and (offensive coordinator) Mike Martz go way back, had a good relationship. Had a (good) relationship with everybody there.”
He said he just wasn’t a good fit in Detroit.
“Being a cover-2 team, they didn’t need a cover corner and that’s basically what I am,” Bly said. “I guess they felt like I was expendable. So, I’m here. It’s a great fit for me being in this system, play a lot of man, play a lot of zone, read the quarterback. Perfect for me.”
Bly said he was eager to see his old teammates and coaches, particularly Martz, with whom he won his Super Bowl ring as a rookie with the Rams in 1999. He said he got along with everybody in Detroit, from the equipment staff to the strength coach.
“So, there’s no bitter feelings,” Bly said.
Broncos coach Mike Shanahan is a big fan of Bly’s, and Favre’s long touchdown toss didn’t change that. After all, two weeks ago, Bly had an interception and two big breakups in Denver’s win over Pittsburgh.
“Everybody points to the bomb and if you’re a cornerback you’ve got to forget about those things because no matter who you are, you’re going to get beat,” Shanahan said. “But Dre’ has played exceptionally well.
“Don’t judge a player by one play. I thought one of the reasons why we beat Pittsburgh was his play. He was player of the game. He takes his play very seriously and he hates to lose.”