DENVER — Week after week, Von Miller has had the same message for his fellow pass-rusher, rookie Bradley Chubb.
“I’ve been telling him every week, ‘This is going to be the week. This is going to be the week,’ and this week was the week.”
It was “the week” indeed.
Chubb broke through for three sacks on Sunday, twice as many as he had registered this season coming into the afternoon. Chubb joins Elvis Dumervil (2006), Reggie Hayward (2001) and Rulon Jones (1980) as Denver rookies to record three sacks in a single game. He’s the first rookie with a three-sack game since 2015.
Chubb showed his full skill set on Sunday and was used all over the field. He lined up at both outside linebacker positions and also in a three-point stance as a defensive end, the same position he played when he wreaked havoc on college offenses at North Carolina State.
That Chubb was able to play and create pressure from different positions shows that he’s getting more and more comfortable at the NFL level. And as he becomes more acquainted with playing multiple positions, the Broncos’ defense can bring more looks to its game plan.
“I think he’s falling into his groove, into his niche, and feeling really good,” inside linebacker Todd Davis said. “So I’m excited to see what he does going forward.”
It’s no coincidence that the Broncos defense was at its best Sunday when it was creating pressure. After allowing 13 points and recording no sacks on the Rams’ first three drives, the Denver defense allowed just 10 points and recorded five sacks over the final 40-plus minutes of the game.
In one of the key junctures of the game, Chubb showed his finest work. After Case Keenum was sacked on fourth and 3, the Rams got the ball at midfield with a 13-3 lead and looking to add on before halftime.
Instead, Chubb came through with two sacks in three plays.
On the first, he simply bull-rushed Rams All-Pro tackle Andrew Whitworth right into quarterback Jared Goff’s lap, leaving the Rams quarterback with no escape.
Two plays later, on third down, Chubb backed Whitworth into Goff again. This time, Goff stepped up in the pocket, looking to extend the play. But Chubb disengaged from Whitworth and reached a powerful left arm out to grab Goff before pulling him to the ground. The Rams, given terrific field position just moments earlier, were forced to punt the ball away.
In the fourth quarter, Chubb completed his trio of sacks when he dipped inside of Whitworth and gobbled up Goff for a 10-yard loss. Like his first two sacks, Chubb’s third takedown proved huge on the scoreboard. Instead of attempting a short kick, the Rams were forced to try a 47-yarder in the second-coldest October game in Broncos history. Cairo Santos pushed his try wide right.
Chubb credited his fellow pass-rushers for each of his sacks.
“Just my teammates and having a great pass rush, four men rushing their tails off,” Chubb said. “One of the sacks, Shane [Ray] made them step up and I’m right there. Me and Von getting to [Goff] on one of them. [Adam] Gotsis setting a perfect pick on one of them. Just having great teammates around me and making my [sacks] layups pretty much.”
With Chubb winning his individual battles, the Broncos’ pass rush as a whole was able to get on track, too. Miller, who hadn’t registered a sack since Week 2, had 1.5. The team finished with five sacks on the day, its highest output since six in Week 1 against Seattle.
The team made a conscious effort to get the pass rushers on the field as much as possible, according to Head Coach Vance Joseph.
“We played more of our over front and we played more of our nine-technique stuff on passing downs,” Joseph said. “Those guys, again, they played hard. … They pressured the quarterback with our four-man rush, and that’s critical, obviously.”
Going against a spread offense like the Rams’, Denver’s pass rush had more opportunities in one-on-one situations. It’s a recipe for success for a team with a deep pass-rushing unit.
“Today, we put them in situations where they couldn’t [have multiple blockers],” Ray said. “As you can see, when we’re able to rush, this is what happens. We all work together. … That’s what we do every time we pass rush. Can’t nobody stop our pass rush.”
While the five-sack performance was a positive, all members of the effort acknowledged the numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game need to change.
As Miller put simply, today was exactly what he imagined the Miller-Chubb duo could achieve, but it lacked the correct result.
“Just reverse the score. Us 23, them 20. It’s perfect.”
With a short week upcoming, the Broncos need continued production out of their pass rush. Sunday’s performance can become a trend after a three-week draught pressuring the passer. Chubb had his week this week. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen again.
“Next week is going to be the week as well for him, and the week after that,” Miller said. “He’s just now getting started. I’m proud of him. All we’ve got to do is get the win.”