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May 7, 2024 9:50 pm

Broncos’ ‘Orange Crush’ DC Joe Collier dies at 91

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Joe Collier, the standout defensive coordinator of Denver’s famed “Orange Crush” defense, Monday night at his home in Littleton, Colo., the Broncos announced. He was 91.

Collier spent 20 seasons on the Broncos’ defensive staff from 1969-88, including the final 17 as defensive coordinator.

“Joe Collier is one of the most impactful coaches in the history of the Denver Broncos and regarded among the best defensive coordinators of all time,” the Broncos said in a statement. “He was an innovator in the NFL with his 3-4 defense, helping the Broncos to three Super Bowl appearances during a legendary career with our franchise that spanned more than two decades.

“Intelligent, modest and soft-spoken, Collier provided steady leadership to five different head coaches as the Broncos emerged as perennial contenders in the 1970s and 1980s. His profound influence on countless players and coaches in Denver included 12 Broncos Ring of Famers, 11 Pro Bowl selections and 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Randy Gradishar.”

The Broncos made Super Bowl appearances after the 1977, 1986 and 1987 seasons with Collier running the defense. However, they went 0-3 in those games and lost by an average of 22.7 points.

Collier also served as head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 1966-68 and went 13-16-1. He was fired after an 0-2 start in 1968.

Collier also served as defensive coordinator of the New England Patriots in 1991-92 after his stint with the Broncos.

Collier was an All-America receiver at Northwestern in 1952 before being a 22nd-round selection by the New York Giants in the 1954 NFL Draft. He didn’t play pro football.

–Field Level Media

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