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Chubb proves he’s the “real deal” as he marches toward history

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Chubb set the Broncos rookie sack record on Sunday and is on pace to break the NFL rookie record with three games to play.

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Hope springs eternal for all rookies in the NFL.

The possibilities are limitless, and the only restraint is your imagination. Fans and teams want every new player to thrive and become the next star, even though that’s not realistic. But that doesn’t stop the hope train.

Then there’s Bradley Chubb.

When he “dropped” in the NFL Draft and was there for John Elway and the Denver Broncos to select with their No. 5 pick, there was dumbfounded excitement. To pair Chubb with Von Miller, are you nuts?

Now there’s what Chubb is doing for the Broncos.

What the Denver rookie is in the midst of is historic.

With his two sacks in the 20-14 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, he set the Broncos’ rookie sack record. Chubb’s 12 sacks breaks Von Miller’s old mark of 11.5 set in 2011.

But that’s just the start of Chubb’s march toward history.

He’s just three sacks from setting the NFL rookie record of 14.5 set by Jevon Kearse in 1999. Chubb has three games in which to get those three sacks.

As Adam Malnati and I said on the MHR Radio Podcast, if Chubb sets the new NFL sack record, he’s the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Full stop. Fans can show support for Chubb as he inches closer to the record by wearing this new Orange Rush hoodie (when you buy it, use the promo code HOODIEHALF at checkout to get one more item for 50 percent off and free shipping).

“They’ve played good all year, so I’m not surprised,” Broncos coach Vance Joseph said about the rookies after the game. “Obviously, those records are important to those players. They work hard for those numbers. But obviously, with the game, it takes the sting away a little bit.”

It sucks that Chubb set Denver’s rookie sack record in a loss, and he is the first to say that. But on a day and in a game where nothing went right for the Broncos, the play of Chubb is the silver lining.

What he is doing on the field and how he’s playing is remarkable. Perhaps the better adjective is historic.

“It’s not something that was my goal,” Chubb told 9News after the game. “I just wanted to make an impact as fast as I could. To do something like that is a blessing, but it’s not something I can celebrate today. We’ve got priorities right now. It is a blessing, I’m very happy but we’ve got three more games and we need to win those and hopefully get a playoff berth.”

Chubb’s 12 sacks put him in a tie for fifth in the NFL. But what makes Chubb’s play stand out even more is he’s not just doing it in the passing game. He’s becoming a complete outside linebacker who makes plays in run defense.

On top of his two sacks, Chubb finished Sunday with three tackles, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits. For the season, Chubb now has 47 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 18 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. According to the stats from the NFL, Chubb is one tackle behind J.J. Watt.

But wait, there’s more.

As Jon Ledyard highlighted on Twitter, here are the players in NFL history who have 12 sacks in their rookie season:

Kearse

Dwight Freeney

Reggie White

Leslie O’Neal

Simeon Rice

Mark Anderson

Charles Haley

Julius Peppers

Terrell Suggs

Chubb is now the 10th player all time to accomplish that feat, and he has three games to go. Did you see those names on the list he just joined?

Taylor Kothe put all of this in perspective on Twitter. Chubb started Sunday tied for 23rd most sacks by a rookie in NFL history. He ended it tied for seventh. In the process, Chubb passed three active players: Miller, Brian Orakpo and Joey Bosa and tied two: Peppers and Suggs.

One would think all of this would at least put Chubb in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year. It only makes sense given the history he’s made and could make in the final three games. But as Ledyard points out, nobody is talking about it. Chubb is barely mentioned in the rookie of the year talk.

That’s insane to me.

When Chubb fell to the Broncos, it really was dumbfounded excitement for Broncos Country. Chubb and Miller, are you freaking kidding me?

Perhaps that’s the best way to describe the reaction to what Chubb is pulling off in his rookie season because we haven’t seen it that often. In rare instances, the reality matches the hype and people don’t know how to respond.

At this point it’s hard to ignore Chubb and his march toward history.

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