Vic Fangio's first season leading the Broncos and their defense was good.
A year after allowing 365.1 yards per game (22nd in the NFL) and 21.8 points per game (12th), the Broncos improved to 337 yards per game allowed (12th) and 19.8 points per game allowed (10th) in 2019. The fact that they achieved that even as cornerback Bryce Callahan missed the entire season and Bradley Chubb missed 12 games with a foot and knee injury, respectively, felt like a promising sign for the future.
Being good, though, isn't good enough for this team.
"I feel as though we had decent year in our first year in Coach Fangio's defense, but it's all about taking that next step," safety Kareem Jackson said Tuesday. "That's what I'm looking forward to with the guys that we have. I think we have the right group, so it's up to us to go out and put the work in."
Going into the 2020 season, the Broncos have reshaped their roster a little defensively. They traded for five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and one-time Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye. With those additions, the returns of Callahan and Chubb, the free-agent re-signings of defensive linemen Shelby Harris and Mike Purcell, as well as the expected return of Justin Simmons as he and the Broncos work out a new long-term contract, Denver's defense should have a chance to improve.
And Jackson is already thinking about it.
"The addition of some of the guys that we added — A.J. Bouye, Jurrell — and obviously getting Chubb back also, those are great pickups for us," Jackson said. "... I think for us the sky is the limit."
To reach that goal, Jackson believes better execution will go a long way.
"First and foremost, I always think tackling can get better," Jackson said. "There are always some aspects in certain games in which you've missed tackles. I think we can always tackle better. Execution-wise, if you go back and look at some of the games and some of the close games that we lost, it might have been one or two plays here and there. You think about that Minnesota game when [in] the second half defensively we just completely just lost our minds. So, always execution, tackling … and us all being on the same page secondary-wise."
Below the Fold
"Is that … Broncos optimism in the air?" writes The Gazette's Paul Klee. To fulfill that optimism, a lot will ride on Drew Lock's shoulders, Klee says.
It's John Elway vs. Joe Sakic in The Denver Post's bracket for the honors of being named the greatest Colorado athlete of all time. On the one hand, Sakic is an all-time great in his own right and also brought Colorado a couple of championship trophies. On the other hand, it's John Elway. However, on the third hand, we're a little biased…
And if you enjoyed our story looking back on John Elway's first day as a Broncos quarterback and his last one, as remembered by Woody Paige, you might like Paige's newest column with a more extensive recollection of those two May 2 moments.