Lost amid all the frustration and consternation over head coach Nathaniel Hackett's ongoing struggles is just how well the Denver Broncos defense is playing. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero's unit is currently ranked top-five against both the pass and the run.
Of course, that must be tempered by the fact that the Broncos have faced a pair of mediocre quarterbacks in Geno Smith and Davis Mills, respectively, to open the season. The early returns on Denver's new defense are encouraging, though.
The Broncos' high-priced free-agent acquisition Randy Gregory has been a disruptive force who can be relied upon to make things really happen. Gregory has now registered forced fumbles in back-to-back games.
Gregory is keen to sustain that momentum, and maintain the Broncos' streak of not relinquishing a touchdown through the last six quarters.
“We just believe in ourselves and I think we really understand what each person does well,” Gregory said this week. “We are excited to play for each other and play hard for one another, which makes it more competitive. You cannot worry about what the offense is doing, that will come around... Six quarters [of] good play. Hopefully, we can keep that going.”
By the time the Broncos draw the marquee quarterbacks on their schedule, Gregory may be back to full speed after having his return from injury closely monitored by Denver's training staff. Gregory's burgeoning chemistry with pass-rushing partner Bradley Chubb should be a well-oiled machine by then.
Having potent pass rushers chasing quarterbacks from both sides of the line is the objective that all 32 NFL teams shoot for each season. Gregory is certainly teeing off opposite Chubb and detailed how the internal contest between the duo motivates them to keep on pursuing their targets.
“We are really competitive. I think a lot of guys want to meet at the quarterback,” Gregory told reporters on Sunday. “That is kind of something we talked about, beating the other guy to the quarterback and turn it [into] kind of a little internal competition. I think more guys [that] have that mentality, [the] better job we can do getting to the quarterback.”
The extent to which the Broncos' two-headed monster is starting to pick up steam has not gone unnoticed by the tandem's defensive teammates. Defensive lineman Dre'Mont Jones is enjoying seeing Gregory and Chubb get after quarterbacks, and he singled out Gregory for a particularly noteworthy platitude.
“Just a new approach to the edge. I know the last couple of years [Bills OLB] Von [Miller] has that edge, but he's not super talkative with the edge,” Jones said. “Chubb, he plays rough and tough and so does ‘RG.' Randy is crazy.”
Jones also knows first-hand that Evero's new scheme and leadership are having a huge early impact. So much so, that Jones is now going on record to say that the Broncos' rookie coordinator is already one of the best the entire league has within their ranks.
“I hope I don't sound too biased, but I think he is a top-3 DC right now,” Jones said. “His defense is a top-tier defense. From ‘Dark Side’ up to the back end, we can shut down through on through.”
Follow Keith on Twitter @KeithC_NFL.
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