The one thing teams should know before going into the 2021 season is, watch out for the Denver Broncos secondary, ranked top of the league by Pro Football Focus. It is no secret that the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 with their defense. Their combination of pass rush and secondary play has become their identity. Today, the Broncos defensive backfield is still the strongest part of the team. In fact, PFF has ranked them the best entering the 2021 season.
Denver Broncos Secondary Ranked Number One
Despite investing heavily on the offensive side of the ball in recent years, Nick Kendall of Mile High Huddle believes the current squad will still cultivate a “defense first” mentality. They will have to if they want to break into their first playoff berth since getting their hands on the Lombardi Trophy. That was their plan all along anyway, but injuries escalated and the entire defense was weakened. It wasn’t enough to compensate for an offense that couldn’t overcome its own struggles. The Broncos will need to reinforce their secondary to have even a chance to contend with the rest of the AFC West.
They Started Early
When George Paton came along as general manager, it was clear that the franchise would be chasing secondary players early. Paton had a lot of valuable experience working with defensive minds on the Minnesota Vikings (GM Rick Speilman and Mike Zimmer). His expertise is defense, and he should stick with what he knows best, especially if the team is already renowned for it. Moving swiftly for more talent to strengthen the secondary was a smart move.
Why Are They the Best?
PFF has a low opinion of the Broncos offense, or more the quarterbacks, but who can blame them? They are, however, in awe of Denver’s defensive backfield, ranking them number one for several reasons:
“No team improved its secondary more than the Broncos this offseason. Last year, third-round rookie Michael Ojemudia, an injured A.J. Bouye and Bryce Callahan — who played out of his natural slot position — were the team’s top three outside cornerbacks. Denver now has the luxury of deciding which of Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby or top-10 pick Patrick Surtain II will start the season on the bench due to Callahan likely moving back inside.
The Broncos also have a case for fielding the league’s best safety tandem. Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson rank second and sixth, respectively, in PFF’s Wins Above Replacement metric since the start of the 2019 season.”
Will Their Depth at the Cornerback and Safety Be Enough?
Vic Fangio is consistent and inventive in his schemes. He has been labeled a defensive genius for his past work, so now is the time for his prowess to show. Denver has ridiculous depth at cornerback and safety. A top-tier secondary combined with even just average performances from Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, plus some talent on offense could really see the team breaking their playoff drought.
While it may seem somewhat implausible that the Broncos can make the playoffs, this boost from PFF provides some hope. After years of mediocrity, the entire franchise – players and coaches – will be more desperate than ever to be in a good position. They have the tools. Now they just have to put them to use.
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