The fearsome defensive tag team is back with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. A return to form could be in store for the once juggernaut Broncos defense.
Von Miller and Bradley Chubb are looking to bring the Denver Broncos defense back to the good-old days, when bewildered offensive lineman were standing around with their hands on their hips and quarterbacks flat on their backs.
Grab a snuggie and a bucket of popcorn, Broncos fans. The defensive house of horrors could soon be returning to Mile High.
Miller, the six-time Pro Bowler with more sacks than a grocery store, has desperately lacked the same elite help he had when DeMarcus Ware was still playing on the opposite side of the defensive front. The future Hall of Fame outside linebacker retired after 12 seasons in 2017, putting an end to one of the all-time great pass-rushing duos.
That still hasn’t stopped Broncos general manager John Elway from cooking up some nostalgia at the home office, and his main ingredient might end up being 2018 fifth-overall draft pick Bradley Chubb.
The reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year screams familiarity with his elite physical prowess, high-end motor and Swiss army knife-like versatility. He’s a plug-and-play day one kind of player that could have a profound impact on the team.
“The attributes that he really brings to the game—stopping the run and being able to be that strong-side guy for Von—that’s what you need,” said Ware, when speaking with the Talk of Fame Podcast. “They have that tag team again.”
A Broncos team coming off a 5-11 season could certainly use a walk down memory lane.
While their defense was far from terrible last season, it was obvious they had lost that psychological edge that once made them the bullies on the playground. The defensive front felt it first with the loss of Ware, and the secondary followed after losing hard-hitting safety T.J. Ward.
That loss of attitude on the backend put even more stress on Miller and the rest of the front-seven to get after the quarterback, but all they could muster was a 33 sack season, which was a significant drop-off from the 42 they had in 2016 and the monstrous 52-sack 2015 season.
Opposing quarterbacks looked more comfortable than they’d been in years when dropping back and knifing the defense for 29 touchdowns through the air last season.
Even with Ware playing well into the twilight of his career, the Broncos gave up less than half that many passing touchdowns in 2016.
They also forced more turnovers.
Teams coughed up the ball 27 times in 2016 as opposed to only 17 times in 2017, which can partially be attributed to the consistent pressure the defense was able to get up front. Even the best quarterbacks can look like mere mortals when they start to get happy feet in the pocket.
Just ask New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady what life was like playing in a phone booth with both Miller and Ware breathing down his neck.
Openly comparing a rookie to a future Hall of Famer is a stretch, but the considerable potential in a rare talent like Chubb has an auspicious vibe circulating throughout the Broncos organization.
Ware is on that same bandwagon, brimming with confidence that the 21-year-old phenom out of Georgia could be the one to fill his empty shoes.
“You know the thing is he can be,” said Ware. “He’s one of those guys who’s mature, he listens, and that’s what you want from a young guy. Because some of them come in very arrogant, saying, ‘OK, I’m in the league now.’ But for me, he has that, ‘I just arrived’ mentality. ‘What do I need to do to deliver?’”
There are only three things Chubb needs to deliver in Denver: Sacks, sacks and more sacks. Enough of those and the good times will get back to rolling.