Despite spending the last half-decade toiling away in mediocrity, the Denver Broncos are one of the most storied franchises in history. Throughout nearly 62 years as an organization, the team has boasted some of the most recognizable names in league history. Names like John Elway, Steve Atwater, and Terrell Davis are household names for fans of football. Hoping to escape from the aforementioned mediocrity, the Broncos must rely heavily on the faces of the franchise. While many players on the team are legitimate candidates, these three are the bonafide faces of the 2021 Denver Broncos.
Faces of the 2021 Denver Broncos
There is no question Von Miller is not only a face of the franchise but the face of the franchise. When you think of the Denver Broncos, you think of Von Miller. You think of his unparalleled run to a Lombardi and Pete Rozelle Trophy.
The sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famer is already the team’s all-time leader in sacks with 106. He is also the NFL’s leading active sack artist (unless Terrell Suggs signs somewhere and plays in 2021). In addition to being Denver’s sack king, Miller is a three-time First-Team All-Pro and an eight-time Pro Bowler. Adding these honors to resumé containing Defensive Rookie of the Year and Super Bowl MVP awards paints the picture of a true face of a franchise.
Miller endured a statistically underwhelming year in 2019 and missed the entire 2020 season. As a result, Miller enters 2021—the final year of his contract—with a chip on his shoulder. What he contributes off of the field, however, is what solidifies Miller as a face of the 2021 Denver Broncos. As the veteran of the front seven, Von’s influence on younger defenders is pivotal to the success of the defense. The production of defenders like Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed is therefore a reflection of the future Ring of Famer’s leadership.
After signing a monster four-year, $61 million deal in March, Justin Simmons earns himself the distinction as one of the faces of the 2021 Denver Broncos. The undisputed leader of the secondary has arguably been the most consistent defender on the team since arriving in Denver in the draft immediately following the team’s Super Bowl 50 victory. Simmons has played 74 of 80 possible games and has played literally every single snap for three years running.
Over the last two seasons, the ironman safety has come up big in bigger moments. He accrued 24 pass break-ups and nine interceptions on 107 targets, bringing his five-year career totals in Denver to 37 deflections, 16 interceptions, a fumble recovery, 385 tackles, two sacks, and 11 tackles for loss.
With Kareem Jackson seemingly in his final year in orange and blue, Simmons will need to lead the secondary while helping mentor the pair of rookie safeties the team selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jamar Johnson and Caden Sterns. His off-field contributions to the team, however, are only a part of what makes Simmons a face of the 2021 Denver Broncos.
Denver nominated Justin Simmons for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for the last two consecutive years. Simmons is only the fourth Bronco to receive the nomination for this award more than once. His commitment to social justice and the community in Colorado illustrates the depth of his character. It also emphasizes his significance to the franchise as a pillar of the community itself. As such, he is not only one of the current faces of the franchise but will continue to be for years to come.
Like Von Miller, Courtland Sutton missed the 2020 season, which would have been his third as a pro. The team’s top receiver in 2019, Sutton returns from a torn A.C.L. as the undisputed number one wide receiver. Fortunately for Sutton, who may need some time to get back to full speed), the offense boasts a steady complement of other talented receivers. The stable of pass-catchers can and will demand coverage attention to give the S.M.U. alumnus one-on-one opportunities.
Sutton earns the distinction of one of the faces of the 2021 Denver Broncos for several reasons. In 2019, Sutton was the receiver with whom Drew Lock had the most chemistry. The odds suggest Lock remains Denver’s starter in 2021. If Lock remains under center, it would make that chemistry invaluable to the success of Lock and the offense as a whole.
He should combine with Tim Patrick and Noah Fant to provide the red-zone offense with big targets. The fourth-year wideout is also the leader and the veteran presence of the wide receiver room. This is despite a mere two seasons (and part of one game) serving as the entirety of his career experience. Like Miller and Simmons, how Sutton contributes to the team off the field should solidify him as a face of the franchise.
Under the leadership of head coach Vic Fangio, the Broncos have yet to truly establish an offensive identity. As such, the faces of the franchise are unsurprisingly skewed more toward defenders. Nonetheless, the team will need these three players to not only lead their respective units but the team as a whole.
Von Miller, Justin Simmons, and Courtland Sutton have all proven themselves capable of producing at an elite level. If the team is to escape from the mediocrity of the last half-decade, it will need these three to lead by example. Broncos Country expects these players to guide the team to success in a make-or-break season for Fangio and company. If anyone can do so, however, it is without a doubt these three faces of the 2021 Denver Broncos.
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