DENVER — In a game where the Broncos' offense struggled to consistently find the end zone, the defense put up a strong performance that kept the team in the game.
Holding the Texans to just three field goals in the game, the Broncos' defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last six quarters they've played, dating back to their second-half shutout in Week 1. Because of their dominance, the team was able to win despite scoring just one touchdown.
While the entire unit worked together well to shut down Houston's offense, Denver's pass rushers were a force to be reckoned with.
"It was one of those games where we needed to [step] up a little bit and shut things down," defensive end Dre'Mont Jones said. "… [The offense] needed us a little bit, and we stepped up."
Jones made his way into the backfield all night, sacking quarterback Davis Mills twice and recording a quarterback hit, six tackles and a forced fumble. After he recorded just one tackle in Week 1, Jones showed a glimpse of the dominant force he could be for the Broncos in 2022.
He credited his success to Defensive Coordinator Ejiro Evero's defensive play-calling, as well as the work Defensive Line Coach Marcus Dixon has done to improve the defensive line. The players on the line bring individual talents, but Jones noted that the coaches put all the pieces together.
"They were calling a hell of a game, and I was just doing my part," Jones said.
Outside linebacker Randy Gregory also put on a show in Week 2, recording a sack, three quarterback hits, two tackles and a forced fumble. It was Gregory's second time forcing a fumble in as many games, and he prides himself on being able to consistently get the ball out.
"That's the main goal," Gregory said. "At the end of the day, you want to get the ball out and get the ball back to the offense, give them as many possessions as they can. I've been taught really well over the years as far as getting the ball out and trying to take it away. … It was nice to be able to do that last game, it was nice to be able to do it this game. The main goal is to do it every game. If you can do that, then the sky's the limit for the defense and the offense, getting them the ball back."
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Gregory missed the offseason program and training camp as he recovered from shoulder surgery, so it was unclear how prepared he would be for the start of the season. Through the first two games, Gregory has put all doubts to rest; he looks every bit the dominant pass rusher the Broncos expected him to be.
Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett is still being cautious with Gregory, but the outside linebacker has made the most of every snap he's taken.
"I'm just glad I can leave the game and feel good physically, and not feel like I've taken a step back," Gregory said. "…It was fun to get out there. It was fun to get out in front of the home crowd and be able to make some plays."
Gregory has already developed chemistry with fellow outside linebacker Bradley Chubb despite only playing two games together so far. They have both battled injuries throughout their careers, but the pass rushers are proving to be a dangerous combination now that they are healthy.
Chubb raved about what Gregory brings to the defensive front, noting the positive impact that the former Cowboy is having on his own success.
"Do you see how tall and long that dude is?" Chubb said. "It's easy being on the other side of him, and seeing the things he does to offensive tackles, and closing the game out with a strip sack. It's a blessing to be on the same line. … It's just been fun rushing as one."
With safety Justin Simmons on injured reserve and cornerback Pat Surtain II leaving the game early, the pass rushers' strong performance took pressure off the secondary. Safety Kareem Jackson expressed his gratitude to the defensive front for taking control of the game.
"They're making the game easy for us," Jackson said. "They've been getting after the passer, making a ton of plays, getting some sacks. They've got a great group up there, and I'm just glad those guys are on our side."
Pass rushing was an area that General Manager George Paton made an emphasis on improving over the offseason, and it has quickly become one of the team's strengths. By consistently applying pressure in the backfield, they were able to keep the Broncos in the game until the offense could find the end zone.
"At the end of the day, we try to take over the game at all times," Chubb said. "We try to be the ones that be the catalyst for them. We try to be the spark that the crowd needs, that we need as a team. We go out there every possession and just have that same mindset."