Denver Broncos’ biggest ‘challenge’ in 2022 is Pass Rush by NFL.com
There’s a lot of optimism around the Denver Broncos this year. But no team is immune to the vagaries of the NFL.
NFL.com’s Eric Edholm posted an article listing each NFL team’s biggest challenge ahead of the upcoming season. His assertion is convincing.
Biggest Challenge: Find early sources of pass rush.
When Denver traded Von Miller last season, the team knew there would be a giant void at one point. That was filled with free agent signee Randy Gregory, but Gregory underwent shoulder surgery shortly after joining the team and opens camp on the roster physically unable to perform. Bradley Chubb returns and second-round pick Nik Bonitto comes in with flair. But Chubb has missed a combined 24 games over the past three seasons and Bonitto may not be ready for full-time duty.
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Calling it a “giant void” seems like an understatement considering the Broncos finished last in the NFL in pass-rush win rate per ESPN, and 31st according to Focus on professional football. With Malik Reed, Stephen Weatherly, Jonathon Cooper and a battered Bradley Chubb last season, it makes sense that the team’s win rate is so woefully low.
With Gregory sitting on the PUP list, it’s hard to tell how effective he will be with little practice. He is unlikely to play the whole season as he hasn’t done so so far in his career.
Similarly, Chubb struggled to stay on the pitch and had limited impact on the game when healthy. Chubb will face fewer double teams with Gregory rushing in front of him, and he will have to take advantage of that. If both rushers stay healthy, the Broncos will have one of the toughest duos in the league.
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Bonitto isn’t ready to start for the Broncos. He adds tremendous speed and an ability to drop into cover, but struggles to get out of blocks consistently and struggles to gain an edge in the run game. The rookie needs to develop his strength, especially in his lower half, if he doesn’t want to be bullied.
Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero will use Bonitto in specific packages, especially in the obvious passes, as his speed is a huge asset when pressing.
With Denver’s top two rushers being injury-prone, it’s obvious that Edholm identified assist production as the team’s biggest challenge. The lack of star power behind Gregory and Chubb only heightens fears of a weak fringe presence.
The Broncos will have to pray that the injury bug doesn’t return this year if they are to successfully rush the passer.
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