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Mile High Morning: Dre'Mont Jones emerging as a playmaker on defense as Denver pushes for postseason appearance


The Lead

Now in his third NFL season, Broncos defensive end Dre'Mont Jones has emerged as a disruptive force for Denver's defense.

As the Broncos look to make a postseason appearance for the first time in six years, Jones has stepped up as a playmaker on the defensive line. Over the last two games, he has recorded three sacks, four tackles for loss and a pass defensed. All 5.5 of Jones' sacks this season have come in the last six games.

Jones continued to roll in Week 14, recording the best series of his career with three defensive stops in four plays during Denver's resounding win over the Lions.

"Jones almost single-handedly forced a Detroit turnover on downs in the third quarter in the Lions’ own territory, a decisive possession in the Broncos’ 38-10 victory at Empower Field," the Denver Post's Kyle Newman wrote. "The third-year defensive end had a sack, a tackle for loss and a pass deflection on the four-play series."

After the game, Jones confirmed that he had never played a better series in his life, not even in middle school.

"That was probably the greatest series of my career — middle school included," Jones said. "That was sweet for me. … My shot was hitting today."

On the day, Jones recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss, two QB hits and one pass defensed in one of his best performances this season. 

"He's playing good football for us, and we need him to," Head Coach Vic Fangio said. "Part of being a good pass defense team is the pass rush, and we need that to show up. And he had a tackle for loss when we were struggling there for a little bit — he came through there to get them out of favorable down-and-distances (multiple times). And we expect that (type of production) from him." 

Jones, who has his sights set on a double-digit sack season, knows that Sunday's win over Detroit got him a little closer to that goal. He also knows that the sacks don't matter as much as the wins, and Jones is determined to make a push for the postseason his number one priority.

"If I don't get (10 sacks), I don't feel like I failed," Jones said. "But ultimately it doesn't matter — it's not about me, it's about us winning that game. We won in a tremendous fashion, by 28 points, and we've got a chance to make the playoffs still."

Below the Fold

Safety Justin Simmons is often considered among the best safeties in the NFL, and his play this season has backed that up. 

Since Week 8, Pro Football Focus has graded Simmons the highest among all safeties, with an overall PFF grade of 90.4.

Denver's defense has found its stride in the last few weeks, and Simmons has been an absolute ballhawk in that time. In the last six games, he has recorded four interceptions and eight passes defensed. On the season, Simmons is tied for third in the NFL with five interceptions (also tying his career high from last season) and also has 12 passes defensed. 

Simmons made one of his most impressive plays of the year on Sunday, as he leapt to pick off Lions quarterback Jared Goff.

With the Broncos defense on a roll, Simmons is in position to set a new career high in interceptions. And if he continues to dominate as he has over the last six games, Simmons could help set Denver up for its first postseason berth since 2015.

The Unclassifieds

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