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Shaquil Barrett is the Broncos most underrated player on the defensive line

Shaq Barrett should be named the starting Edge defender for the Broncos. Shane Ray relegated to a reserve role

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

There is no question that the Denver Broncos defense has been off its game since Shane Ray returned to the line up. They can’t generate as much pressure. They can’t stop the run as well. They are giving up a ton of points.

It’s time to acknowledge how good Shaquil Barrett is and why he should be the primary Edge defender opposite Von Miller instead of Shane Ray.

Pro Football Focus agrees with that assessment if you look at their grades for each player.

Overall, Barrett has a 77.8 grade compared to Ray’s 52.5. Ray is supposed to be a pass rush specialist, but he only has a 76.0 to 71.6 advantage over Barrett in that area. In run defense, it’s not even close with Barrett possessing a 82.8 to 41.6 advantage over Ray. Even in pass coverage, Barrett is far superior with a 63.3 to 47.7 advantage.

Ray is starting over Barrett for one reason: he is a first round pick.

The coaching staff is starting to realize this has Ray has seen his snap count fall, while Barrett’s has risen since Ray took over three weeks ago. They were roughly even on snaps last week, but I would say Ray needs to go strictly into a reserve pass-rush only role on defense.

This coaching staff has proven to be slow learners when it comes to making necessary decisions to improve the competitiveness of the football team, so it could be several more weeks before we see Barrett retake his job.


Should Shaq Barrett be starting over Shane Ray?

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