Broncos depleted pass-rush faces “great challenge” in Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson


The day he traded outside linebacker Bradley Chubb to Miami, Broncos general manager George Paton expressed confidence in the rest of his edge group.

“We believe in the depth we have at outside linebacker, our young pass rushers,” Paton said as Denver went into its bye week at 3-5, insisting he would have made the trade regardless of his team’s record. “We’ve invested a lot in that position.”

Three weeks does not determine whether a move is successful — and Denver won’t make the first-round selection it received in the deal until the spring — but the early returns for the remaining group have not been pretty.

Randy Gregory has not played since Week 4 due to a knee injury that landed him on injured reserve.

Baron Browning missed the first game after the Broncos’ bye while continuing to recover from a hip injury, but as he’s worked his way back into playing time he’s recorded no sacks and two hits in the past two weeks.

Rookie Nik Bonitto and second-year man Jonathon Cooper have no sacks and one hit apiece during the past three weeks.

Jacob Martin, acquired from the New York Jets the same day Chubb was traded, logged a Week 10 sack but no other hits.

“They’re doing everything that they can, and they are going to continually try to get to the passer,” head coach Nathaniel Hackett said of the remaining group. “You have to affect the passer. It starts with stopping the run across the board to be able to put them in passing situations, so we have more (pass-)rushing opportunities. We didn’t have a lot of those (Sunday), but we have to get to the passer.”

The loss of a player like Chubb and playing shorthanded without Gregory has a cascading impact, too. Take defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones, for example. He had 5.5 sacks the first eight weeks of the season playing alongside Chubb. He’s logged one hit each of the past three games and no sacks.

“We’ve just got to rush better, understand the game plan and rush together more as like, us and the d-line working together to make sure we’re putting as much pressure on the quarterback, not giving him too much field or too many lanes and things like that,” Cooper said recently. “We have to get after it. The standard stays the standard regardless of whether we have guys out or not.”

Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold only dropped back 19 times in the Panthers’ 23-10 win on Sunday — Steve Wilks’ team was more than happy to run the ball 46 times for 185 yards and chew up more than 37 minutes of possession — but he wasn’t sacked and was hit only twice.


Source link