And this past week, Marshall offered his take on what happened to the Broncos last season in the months that followed their Super Bowl win. He started the train of thought when discussing his frustration with his own play during the 2016 season.
Marshall played in 11 games and finished with 52 tackles — or 50 fewer than in 2015 and 61 fewer than in 2014. Asked about his 2016 season, which was impacted by a hamstring injury, Marshall said he was frustrated throughout the year and well into the offseason.
“It kind of sat on me. I had a bad feeling, I had a bad taste in my mouth all of last year,” Marshall said. “Even during the season, I was like, ‘I’m not making any plays, I’m not making plays.’ It just felt weird. I wanted to do something about that. I plan to have a complete opposite season. I plan to make all the plays. … Linebackers are supposed to lead the team in tackles. We’re supposed to be the playmakers on defense, and I think that’s what we need to get back to.”
When prompted to elaborate, Marshall, who was one of the players around the league who knelt for the national anthem to protest social injustice last season, didn’t say it was the criticism that came from protest, but pointed to more of a teamwide issue in the post-Super Bowl season.
“I wouldn’t blame it on one specific thing. I think there were some distractions and maybe a Super Bowl lull,” Marshall said. “At the end of the day, nobody cares about that. All they care about is: Did you make plays or not? And I didn’t. I want to reverse that this year.”
To reverse it, Marshall believes it will come down to a ramped-up conditioning program as well as a different approach to his goals.
The trouble with winning a Super Bowl is it’s a career goal for every player. And once it has been reached, human nature might simply lead some players and teams to ease up a bit. The New England Patriots are the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls (2003 and 2004 seasons).
“Before we won the Super Bowl, I didn’t even think about it,” Marshall said. “I was so mesmerized to be on a winning team and thinking that we’re about to go to a Super Bowl. I never thought that was a real thing. … [Now] I think it’s real. One of my old trainers put it to me like this: ‘When you reach all of your goals, or when you have something that you work for your whole life and you reach it, naturally, you take a deep breath.’ Even though you reached that, we have to set new goals and new aspirations and work toward that. Once you reach those old goals, I guess those goals won’t do it for you anymore.”
“You have to make the fire you had to get the first one,” Miller said. “You know, to make the second one just as important.”
Marshall pointed to the Patriots this past week, who have consistently been in the championship conversation with Tom Brady at quarterback and Bill Belichick as the team’s coach.
“They are always in the AFC Championship [Game] or the Super Bowl,” Marshall said. “I don’t know. They have a great quarterback, Tom Brady. … Bill Belichick is probably the greatest coach in NFL history. I will definitely give him that. All of those things come into account. But I do think it’s weird because no matter who they put in or who they put on the team, they still play well. It doesn’t matter. The one constant is [the combination of] Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. They pick and plug guys and they’re still successful, which is crazy.”