Bradley Chubb on the Broncos Defensive Expectations: 'It's Going to be Chaos'
In Vic Fangio's first year at the helm, the Denver Broncos didn't dominate defensively as fans had hoped. There were certainly flashes of greatness but they were punctuated with long stretches of inconsistency.
The shining triumph for Fangio last year? The Broncos finished as the No. 1 red-zone defense in the NFL. That's something.
It was a big reason why the Broncos were able to hang in games despite sub-par quarterback play for much of the season. All in, the Broncos finished 7-9 in Year 1 of the Fangio regime, while ending up as the No. 12 defense in total yards.
It's important to keep in mind, however, that as disappointing as the Broncos were defensively last year (compared to the expectations), Coach Fangio was rolling with the punches of several key personnel losses. Not only did prized free-agent CB Bryce Callahan miss all 16 games, but the Broncos lost Bradley Chubb to a torn ACL in Week 4. Even Derek Wolfe, who was on a career-high tear posting seven sacks through 12 games, missed the final quarter of the season.
However, Chubb is back and it wouldn't surprise anyone to see him stronger and more productive than ever. In fact, Chubb sees big things on the horizon for the Broncos defensively, especially with Von Miller's newfound hunger and motivation and the acquisition of five-time Pro Bowl DL Jurell Casey.
“Chaos, man. I’m excited for it," Chubb said on Friday via virtual press conference. "It’s going to be fun. Just to see the things he did for however long he’s been in the league—five straight Pro Bowls. One of the best [defensive] tackles and pass-rushing [defensive] tackles and run-playing [defensive] tackles in the league. It’s going to be fun to mix that with me coming back even hungrier, Von coming back even hungrier, and a defense that feels like it has something to prove. It’s going to be chaos for others.”
Again, as a unit that approached greatness at times last season, Chubb believes that the Broncos are in position to establish themselves as one of the NFL's elite defenses. Joining the fray are the likes of a healthy Callahan, plus cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia.
“I feel like we could be top-five or top-10 in the league," Chubb said. "Like I said, we’re in the second year of the defense. Everybody is going to be a lot more comfortable and communication is going to be a lot clearer. We have a lot of playmakers now. We added A.J., and we added Jurrell. It’s just going to be fun to see."
Don't forget about that top-notch safety duo patrolling the back end of the Broncos defense. Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson relish the opportunity to see what they can accomplish as a safety tandem in Year 2 in Fangio's scheme.
"We’ve got Justin, Kareem and all those guys," Chubb said. "It’s just going to be fun to get everybody back in the building and see how we gel in Year 2. Unfortunately, I went down last year with the injury, but me, Von, and everybody coming back way hungrier and ready to prove something is going to be chaos.”
The question on the minds of Broncos Country is whether Chubb will be ready to go in the season-opener vs. the Tennessee Titans. The third-year rush linebacker answered that in plain English.
“Yeah, no doubt. I feel like I’ll be ready to go," Chubb said. "Like I said, [I’m] easing back into practice and getting my flow back to where it was. I feel like I’ll be good for Week 1, for sure.”
Coach Fangio said on Tuesday that Chubb has had "one hell" of a rehabilitation process. The young pass rusher really embraced his recovery and attacked the offseason in an effort to come back bigger and stronger than ever.
In reality, while fans should fully expect Chubb to play in Week 1, the Broncos are likely to play it safe with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 draft and keep him on a snap count of sorts. I would expect that to last through the first quarter of the season.
But if Chubb's recovery really has put him ahead of the curve, a limited snap count won't preclude him from, as he says, creating chaos for opposing offenses and sacking the quarterback. It's going to be fun to see.