DENVER (CBS4) – It may be the toughest challenge in the NFL — fixing the Broncos’ defense. Dennis Allen is going to try to do what so many before him couldn’t.

Allen comes to Denver from New Orleans. He helped turn that defense into one of the best in the league, particularly against the pass. A year ago Allen and the Saints became Super Bowl champions, but when he got to New Orleans the Saints were definitely in bad shape.

The Broncos finished 32nd on defense last year. It can’t get any worse.

“Somebody’s got to be able to do it. Somebody’s got to break the trend and I think we are all looking forward to the opportunity,” Allen said. “It’s going to be a great challenge and I think we are up for the challenge.”

Allen went to New Orleans in 2006, six months after Hurricane Katrina.

“I was part of a staff that was able to build a team that was 3-13 the year before. And we built it from below sea-level in New Orleans to a world championship team,” Allen said.

Allen said there’s something about getting in on the ground level.

“There’s an excitement about building something from the ground level up and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Allen’s Saints finished fourth in pass defense, allowing less than 200 net passing yards per game and a league-low 13 touchdown passes in 2010. He says physical ability is vital, but so is what a player has above his shoulders.

“The biggest thing is if we’ll play with a passion and we’ll play with a violence about ourselves, then that’s to me; this game is a lot more than just Xs and Os. It’s more about how you play the game and your mental attitude more so than it is the Xs and Os that are involved in it.”

Allen said there is plenty of talent on the Broncos and they just need to find out how to get the best out or each player. He envisions a Broncos defense that will play with passion — a defense that will exert its will against opposing offenses.

“If the offense doesn’t fear you then you’re never going to be considered a great defensive team. To be great on defense you’ve got to be feared, and the only way you can be feared is if you play with a violence and passion about you and play at a tempo that the other teams are unwilling or unable to match.”

Allen is thrilled to be coaching Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey. He’s already viewed as an outstanding and up-and-coming coach in the NFL. If he can turn the Broncos defense around most believe it will just be a matter of time before he will have an entire team to call his own.

But for Allen, it’s one challenge at a time.

“Really what I’m going to try to do is be the best defensive coordinator I can be. I’m going to help this defense be better and if I can do that and something comes of that, then that’s great. If not, I’ll be satisfied being defensive coordinator and seeing how many offensive minds I can outwit.”

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