Watching the Denver Broncos secondary last season, there was little reason to marvel at them. In 2017, they were fourth in yards allowed per game (200.6), and allowed 47 completions (of at least 20 yards). A year later, those numbers dropped to 20th (245.6) and 56. An overhaul of the secondary began in March of this year. Get ready to see a revitalized Denver Broncos secondary.
We Will See a Revitalized Denver Broncos Secondary
Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb was pleased when the Broncos signed Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan. He told Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post “I was happy. It’s definitely going to be something special. If they can make the quarterback hold it a little longer, we can get there, it’s going to be fun.”
New head coach Vic Fangio got the wheels turning by bringing in experienced secondary coach Ed Donatell, who worked with him in Chicago. We can expect this new defensive coordinator is expected to do wondrous things. De’Vante Bausby soon joined Jackson and Callahan. Meanwhile, Chris Harris Jr.’s contract was partially settled – he’ll receive a raise this year and be a free agent next season.
The More Kareem Jackson Plays as a Safety, the Better
During off-season practices, Jackson played at safety in base packages, despite having been a cornerback last year. He is likely to play corner with Harris and Callahan in sub-package situations. According to O’Halloran though, his instincts and physical play will enable the Broncos to play him in a strong safety-type role. This will help Justin Simmons remain in the deep middle part of the field.
Chris Harris Jr Can Play Outside on Third Down
The arrival of Callahan will make this a possibility, even with Harris being of the league’s best slot cover specialists. He played slot because no one else was able to do this quite as well as he. But Fangio thrives on versatility. We could still see him use Harris, Jackson or Callahan to cover inside, depending on the opponent.
It doesn’t matter where he lines up. If assigned to shadow the opponent’s top receiver, Harris will have more targets and takeaway opportunities. In order for this to work, Callahan will need to be out of the slot. That is where he best tracks receivers.
Bausby Needs to Prove Himself
He has experience playing in Fangio’s scheme, but Fangio pointed out his inconsistency when he played in the AAF this winter. He needs to be productive during camp to compensate for his lack of experience (four games with the Chicago Bears in 2016 and six with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018).
O’Halloran believes if Bausby works hard, he’ll perhaps be a reserve behind Harris/Callahan in base defense, and Harris/Callahan/Jackson in sub personnel.
There’s Still Uncertainty in the Backup Safety Spots
Will Parks will clearly be first choice for backup, and then everyone else. However, the safety position may not be as big a priority if Fangio commits to a nickel primary sub package (three cornerbacks, two safeties). If this is the scenario, there will be more linebackers than safeties.
This is the year Broncos fans really need to see a change in their team across board. With the secondary performance declining in recent seasons, it’s a relief to know that the situation could improve in 2019.
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