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Broncos Film Room: How Bradley Chubb will change the Broncos' defense

Andre Simone Avatar
May 13, 2018

The selection of Bradley Chubb for the Denver Broncos is exciting in many ways. For one, he was a consensus top-five player in the class and one of the best non-quarterbacks in the entire draft. 

Chubb is also is a very versatile and well-rounded edge rusher, who’ll allow the Broncos to do a variety of things defensively that they couldn’t really do a year ago, with only three edge rushers, and one of them, Shane Ray, injured for a large part of the season

Beyond what the former Wolfpack star brings to the defense, the Broncos depth at the position is back to its 2015 form, when Denver was able to ride the unit all the way to a Super Bowl win. Also, that depth is rendered even greater with the addition of undrafted free agent Jeff Holland, who terrorized SEC offenses last season.

Beyond just the player they added, the Broncos selection of Chubb opens up a world of options of how to attack, and confuse, opposing quarterbacks in 2018. 

Here’s how:

Of course, they could always just line the fifth-overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft opposite Von Miller and let him do things like this:

Aside from that—mind you, that’s 74th overall pick, Geron Christian, that Chubb’s blowing right by, one of the more athletic and long offensive-tackle prospects in this past draft—here’s a variety of ways in which Vance Joseph and Joe Woods can take advantage of their new toy. 

Doing his own stunts

One area in which Chubb is an absolute game wrecker is on stunts, where he lines up outside and then attacks inside, while the interior defensive lineman goes outside. While watching film of the former NC State stud, he’s a threat on stunts time after time—watch him here below as he goes from being lined up over the right tackle and just blows the center into the backfield.

His power is really obvious in such situations, as he can attack interior linemen with a head of steam and just knock them off their spot. He uses his hands effectively and can stun offensive lineman with ease, showing great leverage and awareness in such situations, always staying disciplined to his gap—this time lined up wide on the weak side, Chubb massacres the right guard and then runs down the quarterback causing a fumble.

He’s also far too agile and slippery for an interior lineman to handle, especially when they’re not prepared for him to rush inside.

Expect Denver to really utilize this strength of his with a variety of looks to keep offenses off balance. Interior pressure can be such a valuable weapon in the modern NFL, where fast-paced quick-hitting passing games rule the day. Having someone who can throw that timing off with interior pressure is incredibly important.

Of all the qualities that make Chubb such an attractive rusher at the pro level, this might be his best.

Inside blitzes

Speaking of interior pressure, another area in which Chubb has shown quite a talent is in rushing passers on A-gap blitzes. In 2017, Joseph and Woods didn’t do enough of this, and the interior pressure that was already lacking due to a weakened defensive line—especially with the injuries to Derek Wolfe—was a real soft spot on the defense this past season.

Creating pressure by mixing it up and using some of your best pass rushers on interior blitzes is just plain smart.

The Houston Texans were very effective doing this back in the 2016 Divisional Playoff round, giving the New England Patriots a real run for their money. Here they are rushing their two best pass rushers—mind you, J.J. Watt was out in this game—Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus up the middle, with the latter breaking through for a clutch third-down sack. 

Borrowing a page from the Texans playbook should help a lot when the Broncos face some of the NFL’s more accomplished pocket passers, with Philip Rivers sitting atop that list. 

Even if the three down lineman don’t progress much this year, the addition of Chubb, and the variety of rushing formations the Broncos can use, should significantly improve their ability to create pressure up the middle.

One area that stood out when analyzing Chubb’s film, is that he doesn’t just stop at creating pressure. He’ll run quarterbacks down even if they escape the pocket, and can be a monster in pursuit, creating fumbles or tackling QBs from behind. That motor and ability in pursuit make him a very dangerous and effective defender, as he’ll wear down and lay lots of hits on opposing signal-callers, even if it isn’t in the opposing backfield. 

The return of the Nascar front

With Chubb’s ability to rush inside or outside, and the new abundance of depth on the edge, the Broncos can bring back a fan favorite—the Nascar formation. 

The Nascar front—for those who aren’t familiar—was popularized by the New York Giants back in their 2011 Super Bowl season. It can be utilized on obvious passing downs and puts three to four outside rushers on the line, creating mismatches across the board. 

Back in 2016, the Broncos started using these types of fronts to manufacture more rush and make up for the loss of Malik Jackson—below is one such formation against the New England Patriots, with three edge rushers on the field at once.

Without Ray for a large part of 2017 and with DeMarcus Ware’s retirement, the Broncos couldn’t unleash these fronts last year, but with the addition of Chubb and the new added depth, it becomes one of the more valuable weapons the defense can use in pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

Chubb becomes a very valuable weapon on these types of fronts, as he can be moved all around the formation and be devastating rushing form the interior or used on stunts with one of the other edge rushers. 

Expect to see a lot more of these types of formations with four edge rushers on the field at once. Below is an example of four edge rushers on the filed at once against the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2016.

When you combine all these different variations with the crowd noise in Denver, the Broncos should once again be a really dangerous opponent defensively.

Chubb can do it all

Beyond the variety of ways in which Chubb can be utilized, his well-rounded skill set will make him a huge asset for the front seven.

One skill that isn’t talked about enough with him is his ability in coverage. Obviously, you don’t want to drop a pass rusher with his skills in coverage very often, but he’s more than competent.

Having that versatility in your back pocket can surprise offenses, as you drop Chubb in coverage and rush someone from the back end, confusing opposing quarterbacks by doing so. That unpredictability is a big part of why a 3-4 front and using outside linebackers to get after the quarterback can be a huge advantage over a 4-3. 

Chubb’s also a very stout run defender. He’s stronger than both Von or Ray, who offenses have tried to run at in the past to lessen their impact rushing the passer, and tire them out. He’s also more explosive than Shaquil Barrett. Unlike some of the other edge rushers on the team, opposing coordinators will have to think twice before running to Chubb’s side—especially a fresh Chubb who’s not playing 95 percent of the defensives snaps the way he was in college. 

His ability as a run defender showed up in particular down in the red zone, where he really showed off that power and ability in pursuit to chase down runs. Given the Broncos’ issues this past season with their red zone defense, having that kind of an asset in goal-line formations should make a big difference.

As the defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins, Joseph was very aggressive and creative scheming the front seven. Now, with Chubb added to the mix, he can get back to giving offensive coordinators headaches and attacking quarterbacks in a multitude of different ways.

Chubb’s impact next season should go way beyond just rushing the passer outside, it gives the Broncos a whole new world of options defensively. Using him the right way will be key to restoring the defense to the level that Wade Phillips had them playing at not too long ago. 


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