Denver boasts perhaps the top defense in the NFL and an offense loaded with young talent at nearly every position. With that kind of firepower on both sides of the ball, newly named QB1 Teddy Bridgewater should be able to lean on his defensive and offensive playmakers to propel Denver to a deep postseason run, as Bucky Brooks of NFL.com says.
"I was not surprised to see the Denver Broncos name Teddy Bridgewater the starting quarterback heading into the regular season," Brooks said. "The veteran is the perfect quarterback to help the Broncos make a playoff run under [Head Coach] Vic Fangio."
Given Fangio's brilliance as a defensive mind and a roster that boasts one of the best secondaries in football with more defensive playmakers in the front seven, Denver should be quite dangerous on defense.
With that in mind, Brooks expects Fangio to "put the game on the shoulders of a top-five-caliber defense with a collection of five-star pass rushers (Von Miller and Bradley Chubb) and defensive backs (Justin Simmons, Kyle Fuller, Patrick Surtain II, Bryce Callahan and Ronald Darby)."
The Broncos are just as explosive on the other side of the ball, with a stout offensive line and more than one young playmaker poised for a breakout season. Veteran Melvin Gordon III will form a dangerous one-two punch with rookie RB Javonte Williams, while a receiving corps featuring WRs Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and TE Noah Fant should vex opposing defenses trying to determine who to prioritize in coverage.
Essentially, Bridgewaterwon't have to be the one making huge plays for Denver to be successful, according to Brooks.
"With the Broncos' emerging rushing attack poised to feature Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams running behind an improved offensive line, the savvy quarterback does not need to be a hero to be an effective QB1," Brooks said. "If Bridgewater manages the game from the huddle to the line of scrimmage and makes sound decisions with the ball, the Broncos' supporting cast will do the work."
A loaded offense and stacked defense should propel the Broncos into the postseason in 2021. With Bridgewater at the helm, Denver is "absolutely a playoff team," according to Brooks. If Bridgewater can avoid turnovers, spread the ball around and lean on his offensive weapons, Denver's defense should be able to do the rest.
"[Bridgewater] will take care of the football, he will get the ball to the playmakers on the perimeter, and they will win a ton of games because that defense is playoff ready," Brooks said.
Below the Fold
Denver's defense was lockdown — literally — through the preseason. The Broncos are the only defensive unit in the NFL that did not allow a single touchdown through all three preseason games.
"They have permitted zero, zilch, zippo touchdowns to the Vikings, the Seahawks and the Rams," Woody Paige of The Gazette said.
While the Broncos did not face the QB1 of any of their preseason opponents, they held opposing offenses to only seven field goals over 12 quarters. The defense was disruptive through all three matchups, racking up sixsacks, 23 passes defensed, a forced fumble and three interceptions, including a pick-six fromSurtain.
"The defense is playing so efficiently and effectively that a nickname will be deserved soon," Paige said. "This is not your grandfather's Orange Crush or your father's No-Fly Zone yet, but the Broncos' first-, second-, third- and eighth-stringers have been producing an immaculate perception."
Paige's comparison to the "Orange Crush" and "No-Fly Zone" defenses is the highest form of praise, as Broncos Country well knows. The Orange Crush defense of the 1970's led Denver to the organization's first playoff berth and their first Super Bowl appearance, and the 2015-16 No-Fly Zone defense was integral to Denver's victory in Super Bowl 50. As Paige writes, the current Denver defense could be similarly dominant in 2021.
There is no doubt that Denver's defense is primed to terrorize opposing offenses this season, with the return of both Miller and Chubb headlining what could be one of the most dominant Broncos' defenses in recent memory. They are backed by a stacked secondary, which includes a top-tier safety tandem in Simmons and Jackson, along with new CB additions Darby, Fuller and Surtain. The unit is already being touted as the best secondary in the league.
The rest of the defense also boasts a deep talent pool, including veterans Shelby Harris, Malik Reed and Mike Purcell, as well as potential breakout rookie defenders, like Jonathon Cooper, who has been explosive in his preseason performances, and Jamar Johnson, who is Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded rookie safety through the preseason.
With the regular season just around the corner, Denver's defense will have the opportunity to prove that they are as good on the field as they are on paper. The Broncos put together a perfect 3-0 preseason and held their opponents out of the end zone for the duration, and now they will face the real test. If their preseason performance has been any indication, Denver should boast a top defense in 2021.
Paige paid the defense the highest compliment, claiming "the Broncos have been Crush-like and Twilight Zone-like" through the preseason.