Since John Elway returned to the Broncos in 2011 he’s only ever had two draft top five drafts picks. Von Miller went right behind Cam Newton in his first ever draft, and the Broncos’ future Hall of Famer was ecstatic when Bradley Chubb was selected fifth overall in 2018. The Broncos have long been known for their strong pass rush, and the duo combined for 26.5 sacks in their lone full season together.
It took until week four before the duo was separated in 2019. Bradley Chubb tried to play through pain and almost sealed a Broncos’ victory over Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars. His performance would mark the end of his second year and the beginning of a long road from a torn ACL.
The two have only had training camp this year as Von Miller’s freak injury saw him land on Injured Reserve. In his absence, it’s fallen on Chubb to pick up the slack as the Broncos’ premier edge rusher. Through the first three weeks of the season he’s shown encouraging growth as an edge setter, run defender, and coverage player. This week he abused three different tackles on the New York Jets.
Justin Melo was fortunate enough to pick Chubb’s brain following his dominant performance Thursday night and contributed his interview here on Mile High Report.
You’re the fourth player to be awarded the SNICKERS Chain this season, following in the footsteps of previous 2020 winners Josh Jacobs, Aaron Jones and Tyler Lockett. You’re in good company. As with last season, the chain is awarded to one player each week who has shown hunger for more with big plays and moments on the field. What does this award mean to you?
Chubb: It’s huge, man. The three players that won the award before me are great players. They had tremendous games. It takes a big game to win this award. I pay attention to it every week. They award the chain to somebody who went out there and played an amazing game. That happens to be me this week (laughs). It was so cool. I’ve been eating SNICKERS my entire life! (laughs). I’ve been working alongside SNICKERS ever since my rookie year. I played so hard to earn the chain this week. It was dope.
Congratulations once again. We here at Mile High Report have been watching a lot of your film and one thing that jumped out at us is how much your hand usage has improved. Your hand placement has been really good this season. Was there anything specific you did to refine that over the last year or so?
Chubb: After I had the surgery, I had to be off of my feet for a few months. I was doing whatever I could to improve my game. I was allowed to continue working on my upper body. I was working on everything I could and I definitely spent a lot of time working on my hand usage in general.
I was on crutches at the time. I was trying to get better at the small things that I was still able to work on. My hands happened to be one of those things. I’m glad to hear you guys have noticed that (laughs). I’m hoping to keep improving my hands. It’s gonna lead to more big plays.
And from the tape we’ve seen, you’ve been dropping in coverage a lot more as of late. You’ve done more things in coverage this season than you ever have. You look really comfortable doing it. Was that intentional growth or is the game simply starting to slow down for you?
Chubb: The game is definitely slowing down for me. Some of that has also been intentional growth. My rookie year, I came in as a guy that was used to rushing the passer on basically every single snap. I wasn’t used to dropping in coverage. To be honest with you, I didn’t really know what to look for. That whole rookie year was definitely an experience for me.
Kicking off my second year, I feel like the game slowed down a lot for me. I have a better grasp on the whole system. I understand what everybody around me is doing now. All of those things have made it so much easier for me to do my job. I feel like all of these things have played a big role in that. I’m getting more comfortable as I go.
That’s great. We love that. Did the coaches give you a heads up that you’d be dropping more in coverage this year?
Chubb: No, not at all. Its just worked out that way so far. I’ve happened to be lined up on the side where certain passing plays are occurring. I understand what we’re doing with our drops and what not. What you see me doing in coverage, that’s just how it’s worked out so far.
I’m more comfortable doing it, but it’s not like the coaching staff had some intention of me doing it more this year. It’s great to be flexible, though. I can handle the versatility. I embrace that. It’s a part of my game now. It’s a reflection of our defense. Sometimes I drop in coverage, sometimes I don’t. It just depends on where I’m lined up.
I thought Brett Rypien had a pretty solid debut all things considered. He’s an undrafted guy that was a fan favorite coming out of college. What did you make of his debut?
Chubb: He was huge for us. I’ve been around Brett for a little while now. He was on our practice squad last season. He’s always gone out there and done everything that’s been asked of him. He never shies away from a challenge at practice. He has such a great attitude. He’s a competitor in every sense of the word.
To see him get an opportunity to go out there and make his first career start, we were all so happy for him. He’s playing on the biggest stage now. He made a few mistakes but at the end of the day, every single person in the NFL makes mistakes.
We didn’t even have a full week of practice for him to get acclimated. He didn’t have a ton of time to prepare. All things considered, we all thought he was great. You saw some of the things he was doing out there. He made the most of his opportunity.
He certainly did just that. The season-ending injury to Von Miller has obviously changed the dynamic for this defense. Have you guys made any specific adjustments to account for his loss?
Chubb: I don’t feel like we made any adjustments defensively. That’s not the word that I would use. I think every single person in our locker room had to make an adjustment with themselves. We all had to look ourselves in the mirror and step up.
At the end of the day, Von Miller is a generational talent. Losing a guy like that is tough. We all sat down and had a discussion and Von was a part of that. Injuries are always going to play a role in football. This is very much a “next man up” business. We’ve been trying to fill that void as much as we can. We all had to step up and play better football. We have to continue improving.
How involved with the team has he been since suffering the injury?
Chubb: Von is always trying to encourage us. I talk to him before every game. I’m always trying to get a little bit of insight into what he’s seeing out there. He has a great eye for the little things. That’s part of the reason why he’s so great. He’s always giving me little pointers on how I could be an even better leader for this team.
He’s been incredibly helpful and involved. He’s continued to help us out even though he can’t be out there on the field with us.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?
Chubb: I would have told myself to get in the film room a little bit earlier. Looking at my rookie year and last season, I was still getting acclimated with the NFL. I was still adjusting and getting into the swing of things.
I feel like when you watch a lot of film, everything comes easier to you. You really start to understand the game at a higher level. You just start to soak up a lot more knowledge about the game. Every aspect of the game starts to slow down for you. I didn’t fully realize that throughout my rookie season. If I did, things would have been a lot different.
I’ve really appreciated your time today, Bradley. This has been great. In closing, you’ve talked a lot about the overall growth of your game. Which part of your game do you think has grown the most throughout your time in the NFL?
Chubb: I would probably point to my mental approach first and foremost. I’m just more on top of everything nowadays. This applies to the playbook and what my teammates around me are doing. I feel like I have a great understanding of our defense as a whole.
I want to be that leader of the defense. It takes a lot of hard work to reach that point. I still have a ways to go, but I feel extremely confident in my process. My mental approach, my want to be a leader, those are the areas where I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth.
One thing I love about Bradley Chubb's 2020 is how he's shown growths in all facets of his game. He's become a complete player. pic.twitter.com/awrNnVn2jd— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 5, 2020
Fans can check out Bradley’s social media to see the chain and follow #SNICKERSchain on social to see which player gets it each week throughout the season.
This #SNICKERSchain still heavy in outer space! @SNICKERS #BenBallerDidTheChain #ad pic.twitter.com/qVy3rqP9oO— Bradley Chubb (@astronaut) October 5, 2020