Since the bye falls so close to the midway point this season, it seemed like a good time to check in on the Vic Fangio Broncos. Yesterday we looked at the most impressive offensive performances so far this year, today we turn to the other side of the ball.
There’s a lot of candidates. Such is life when you have one of the best units in football.
Vic Fangio's 1st #Broncos D has one legitimate pass rusher, one proven cornerback, a guy who spent his summer with the Salt Lake Stallions, and 3 first time starters including an UDFA rookie.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 2, 2019
Through 8 games, they're the 3rd best defense by DVOA in the league. https://t.co/bwoCo6kTdC
So who has been the defensive MVP so far in 2019?
Taylor Kothe: Alexander Johnson. Justin Simmons will get a lot of very well deserved love here as well, so I want to make sure Johnson gets highlighted. To rise above false accusation and 4 years out of football to play at a high level in the NFL is incredible. After spending the first 4 weeks on the bench, Johnson has averaged 8 tackles a game in 5 starts, with multiple pass defenses, an interception, and a forced fumble as well. If he holds to his pace, there’s a good chance he may surpass 100 combined tackles in just 12 games played. The Broncos have found their inside linebacker.
.@Chief45Beast was named @PFF's AFC Defensive Player of the Month!— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 5, 2019
His 28 total tackles without a missed tackle are the most of any NFL player in October.
» https://t.co/HvWttDJpG9 pic.twitter.com/p7jiVHAfbm
Kyle Berry: Justin Simmons. He’s become an unquestioned leader on that defense, he helps in the run game and we are scratching the surface on his solid potential in Fangio’s system. Injuries in the back seven have limited what made Broncos fans thought we’d see out of the BC product, but Simmons has done well fitting multiple masks, and should only get more comfortable with the eventual return of Bryce Callahan and progress of Davontae Harris in the defense.
Vic Fangio says Justin Simmons has a bright future in Orange & Blue.— Zac Stevens (@ZacStevensDNVR) November 4, 2019
Joe Mahoney: Kareem Jackson. While I love the contributions that Johnson and Simmons have provided, we saw what happened when Jackson was both not in the field as well as being forced to play CB and not focus solely on safety. Kareem Jackson missed the 4th game of the season and our defense did not work. That 4th game was the game against Jacksonville where we gave up 269 yards rushing. In the other 8 games the defense has allowed 699 total yards rushing or 87 yards per game. This means that without Jackson our defense was crap. Admittedly, we have not had a game where we have missed Simmons or Chris Harris, but this is the only data point that I need to call Jackson my mid-season defensive MVP.
Jeff Essary: Gotta agree with Joe Mahoney on Kareem Jackson. He’s the leader and quarterback of the secondary. In a system like Fangio’s that puts a lot of responsibility on the safeties, Jackson has been a tremendous fit, and he and Justin Simmons form one of the best duos in the league at the position.
One area where Kareem Jackson has a ton of value that gets missed by Mock Drafts sending Delpit to the #Broncos is how he communicates assignments to others on the fly.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 4, 2019
Strongly believe Fangio had it right eyeing him as a safety.
Scotty Payne: Justin Simmons about to get paid. Many hoped he would make the jump in Fangio/Donatell’s system and he did just that. The No Fly Zone is dead and gone, but Simmons is a piece who can get that unit back to a dominant level sometime in the near future.
JoRo: If we’re talking strictly about value relative to the dropoff at the position? It’s Von Miller. With Bradley Chubb out for the year and two rookies behind him on the depth chart, Von is working overtime to carry the Broncos pass rush in 2019. I know his sack numbers are down, and that’s had a lot of box score scouts up in arms about how he’s overpaid, not trying hard, yada yada.
Look a little closer and he’s still having a profound impact on the pass defense. According to Sports Info Solution’s game charting Miller has 34 pressures on the year and trails only the now injured J.J. Watt (who also has just four sacks). Beyond that, you can see the impact the 30-year old edge rusher’s having on younger players like Malik Reed if you turn on his tape and compare it to the preseason footage. What he’s doing as a leader is almost as impressive as everything else he’s put on film.
A box score scout may rail about Von Miller's lack of sacks.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 4, 2019
This misses the fact that pressure is often the big reason the #Broncos secondary holds up. pic.twitter.com/jy9swogZkg
Tim Lynch: I think all of those players have been outstanding, but they have all been a major part of this defense since Week 1. However, since Alexander Johnson has stepped foot on the field the whole dynamic of that defense seemed to change. I’ve gotta go with Taylor on this one and give the MVP nod Johnson’s way through the first half of the season.
Who is your defensive MVP so far Broncos Country?
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