If anyone had doubts about Patrick Surtain II being the future of the Denver Broncos defense, those doubts will surely now be diminished. The Broncos unexpectedly outplayed the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, and Surtain II and the defense were largely responsible for that. Moving forward, they need to repeat that performance.
Patrick Surtain II is the Future of the Denver Broncos Defense
Have They Finally Got the Right Consistency on Defense?
Safety Justin Simmons has played 85 games for the franchise since being drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Suffice it to say, he has seen the worst of this team and weathered the disappointments, including five consecutive playoff misses, along with his teammates. As reported by ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, Simmons finally saw his team play with consistency.
Despite four rookies on defense, led by Surtain II, and backups replacing backups, everyone still clicked. “That’s the type of defense we need to be playing for the rest of the season,” Simmons said. “Not the roller coaster that’s kind of been the first half of the year before the bye.”
Be Relentless Against the Quarterback
The Chargers finished 357 yards of offense, but Denver did a thorough job harassing Justin Herbert for much of the game. They sacked him three times, while Surtain II intercepted him twice – once in the endzone preventing a touchdown and the other a pick-six to secure the game. Fangio believes the rookie’s “great awareness” will only improve with time.
Denver’s coverage has improved dramatically. Head coach Vic Fangio knows they somehow got it right this time. “We really didn’t add a fifth rusher much. We just kind of played coverage — the danger of that is [Herbert’s] scrambling because he’s good at that … and we were able to survive that part.”
The team even surprised themselves, as evidenced by Simmons. “Whatever that was, that’s what we have to do from here on out.”
Herbert’s performance was severely stunted by the Broncos. The previous week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he rushed for 90 yards. He rushed just 36 yards against Denver. Broncos defense held the Chargers two running backs to 36 yards on 13 carries — 31 yards on 12 carries for star Austin Ekeler.
Surtain Has the Talent To Be a Top Cornerback
Denver has both inside linebackers Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson on injured reserve, safety Kareem Jackson has a neck injury and defensive end Shelby Harris missed playing with an ankle injury. This meant that the Broncos had four rookies in the formation for much of the game, yet were still a force against Los Angeles.
It seems Surtain II has now garnered high expectations of himself from his teammates. Simmons latent praise was still felt. “We forced a lot of passing situations and we were able to get out hands on quite a few balls… That’s what we expect from [him] week in, week out.”
Fangio calls Surtain II “special” and the rookie continues to display the talent it takes to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league. His teammates have repeatedly mentioned his unflappable demeanor since he arrived. His speed is top-tier. NextGen Stats showed Surtain II reached 22.07 miles per hour during his touchdown return. That’s the fastest speed a defensive ball carrier has had over the last five years.
The future doesn’t look as bleak as it once did, but the Broncos still have a long way to go. Facing the Kansas City Chiefs will be a challenge and a true test to see if they have got a formula that works.
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