- Von Miller’s ankle injury won’t stop the Denver Broncos from contending in 2020.
- Vic Fangio, Jurrell Casey, and Bradley Chubb will keep Denver’s defense strong.
- Drew Lock, Pat Shurmur, and the Broncos’ offense will carry the team.
Von Miller’s injury won’t stop the Denver Broncos from being a sneaky contender in the AFC West in 2020. Losing Miller for as much as six months with an ankle problem is an obvious blow, but Vic Fangio’s schemes, Bradley Chubb’s return, and the presence of Jurrell Casey will help compensate.
NFL Network duo Mike Garafalo and Ian Rapoport provided details of Miller’s setback on Wednesday:
Miller’s pass-rushing skills were crucial in a 3-4 defense designed to bring pressure off the edges. Yet the future Hall-of-Famer wasn’t the only reason to believe Denver’s D’ can be special.
Vic Fangio Will Ensure Von Miller isn’t Missed
The Broncos have the luxury of having a defensive guru as head coach. Fangio made his reputation masterminding some of the best 3-4 fronts of the modern NFL.
He’s been successful everywhere, most notably during a stop with the San Francisco 49ers, where Fangio’s unit became one of the best in football.
Fangio utilizes elite talent well, but he also knows how to scheme pressure. His roots are in the zone-blitz system of Dom Capers.
Fangio ran Capers’ defense for the expansion Carolina Panthers in 1995, helping the team contest the NFC Championship in just its second season. Fangio’s unit brought the blitz in a variety of ways, often showing pressure from one side then sending it from the other.
Fangio’s schemes will still cause the Broncos’ opponents problems. He’ll also rely even more on the supporting cast around Von Miller.
It’s a strong one thanks to the brilliant Casey:
Getting Casey from the Tennessee Titans for a seventh-round pick was daylight robbery. The 30-year-old has somehow flown under the radar, despite being one of the more disruptive interior D-linemen of his era.
Casey’s partnership with Shelby Harris will ensure pressure through the middle remains intense. This duo will also take blockers away from Bradley Chubb, who is back from injury heartbreak after missing last season with a torn ACL.
Chubb is an accomplished pass-rusher in his own right, one who logged 12 sacks as a rookie in 2018.
This pass rush looked great with Von Miller healthy, but things still appear strong without him. It’s why Miller, who’s 32 in March, might be looking for a new home in 2021.
It’s Not All About the Defense
Denver’s defense wouldn’t have carried the team even before Miller’s injury. Not when second-year quarterback Drew Lock is surrounded by new weapons and operating a new scheme.
Rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy will join Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton to form an enticing pair of targets on the outside. Meanwhile, tight end Noah Fant struck up a rapport with Lock late last season.
There’s even more depth in the backfield, where Melvin Gordon was signed to deliver a one-two punch with Phillip Lindsay. The latter is a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, while former Los Angeles Chargers starter Gordon is a big-play threat provided he can stay healthy.
Directing all of this talent will be Pat Shurmur, a creative play-caller who’s had rotten luck as a head coach. Shurmur got the boot from the New York Giants, but he devised some exciting concepts to get the best out of Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, and Darius Slayton.
He’ll do the same for a Broncos offense good enough to lead the charge for a wild-card berth.
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.