Increasingly, buzz is growing around the Denver Broncos' newly-assembled defense which many analyts belive could become a truly elite unit in 2021. Add NFL Network's Steve Wyche to the growing list of well-respected talking heads who've gotten on board with just how good Denver's defense could be.
In a recent appearance on NFL Total Access, Wyche was asked to name the defenses around the league with the upside to be elite.
“There are so many options right here… but to me [it’s] the Denver Broncos, because they finally got some pieces that fit, when you talk about strategy, Vic Fangio’s scheme and what he wants to do. Now you’ve got Bradley Chubb finally paired with Von Miller, healthy after a couple of years with one or the other not being on the field.”
Thanks to some shrewd front-office maneuvering, first-year GM George Paton, upon getting the job, promptly brought back Von Miller, and exercised Bradley Chubb’s fifth-year option to give the Broncos an elite pass rush pairing. While that move has been applauded, it’s Paton’s draft-day decision to add Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II to an already loaded secondary that has been questioned, especially with coveted quarterbacks like Ohio State's Justin Fields and the Crimson Tide's Mac Jones still on the board.
Wyche didn't add any weight to that narrative, and instead praised the front office move to draft Surtain, while also pointing out the importance of returning veterans like Pro Bowl safety Justin Simmons and paying nose tackle Mike Purcell last fall.
“They go and draft Patrick Surtain, the rangy cornerback from Alabama who will stick his nose up there and hit. And they’ve got Justin Simmons, the safety, one of the best players in the game, and also at nose tackle, they’re getting back Purcell [Mike], who was out most of last year with a foot injury. That is a big returning player because he really helped out their run defense.”
Losing vital pieces last year, like the run-stuffing expert Purcell, got overlooked in the wake of big names like Miller having already been ruled out for the year. And it showed on the field. Going to battle in the stacked AFC West is a formidable challenge for even a fully fit defensive unit, and providing the chips fall in Denver's favor, making a push for the playoffs will not be beyond reach, according to Wyche.
“They’re in a division where teams can score points and light it up. But I think the Broncos defense has an opportunity to give a team that a lot of people are sleeping on – an opportunity to at least get into that wild-card spot in the AFC West.”
Wyche predicts the Broncos to field the best defense in the NFL and truly vy for a playoff spot? Fans can only hope that this time, the Broncos can meet the lofty expectations around NFL media.
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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