When the Denver Broncos drafted Baron Browning in the third round, they got a versatile, athletic linebacker but he needed to settle down in one position. It took a while for the coaches to get him groomed to be an off-ball linebacker because of multiple injuries, but he has come around.
Since Browning has become a starter on defense, he's shown the development fans hoped for and has quickly proven to be a playmaker. Now, his play hasn't perfect, and vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, he gave up a big catch for a first down, though he had to stick in coverage for a long time, and that was a tough ask. It was one negative play nestled between a full slate of great ones.
Browning was all over the field for the Broncos' defense against the Chargers, which can be said since he entered the starting lineup in Week 9., finishing with seven tackles (five solo), and a pass deflection. He has brought stability in the running game and shows off his athleticism in coverage. Despite the one bad play, Browning also made a tremendous play in coverage, nearly coming away with an interception.
Remember, despite all the missed time and being a rookie, Browning has been trusted by the coaches to wear the green dot on his helmet, calling the defensive signals for the Broncos on the field. In tandem with Kenny Young, the Broncos have a young, dynamic off-ball linebacker duo patrolling the middle of the defense.
"He’s been putting in extra work," head coach Vic Fangio said post-game. "He comes up and meets with me some for extra. To say ‘relatively new’, you’re kind of not telling the whole story there for both of those guys. I have to kind of always be aware of it. We’re not going in with all of our calls that we normally would, say if [ILB] Josey [Jewel] and ‘A.J.’ (ILB Alexander Johnson) were in there, but that’s called adapt and adjust, I.N.A—improvise and adjust, and you’ve got to do it.”
It took time for Browning to develop because of injuries and being used in various ways at Ohio State, but the Broncos coaches have done a great job with him. With how he has played, he has given Broncos fans some hope when it comes to the off-ball linebacker position, though he still has to continue his climb upwards.
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