When Vic Fangio arrived in Denver, the Broncos secondary looked very different than it does today. Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan, De’Vante Bausby were all new players brought in at the beginning of the offseason in 2019.
Then, the Broncos continued to add corner depth by signing waived cornerback from the Bengals, Davontae Harris and traded for the New England Patriots 2018 second round pick, Duke Dawson.
That’s a lot of new players thrown into a scheme that is notoriously hard to learn. Reflecting back on last year, even though they took their lumps, it’s surprising the secondary played as well as they did.
This year, there’s only one newcomer in A.J. Bouye, with the rest of the group being able to hopefully pick up where they left off last season.
Duke Dawson joined Broncos Country Tonight last night to chat with Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright about how the offseason has gone thus far and his preparation for the 2020 season.
For Duke, this will be his first full offseason with one team as he was drafted in 2018 and spent his rookie year in New England, and then was traded to Denver right before the season started, so this time last year looked pretty different for him.
He sounds like he’s taking advantage of the time, particularly dig into Fangio’s scheme and get more comfortable in the defense. When asked about how this offseason was going, Dawson said:
“It’s been going pretty good for me. Just honing in on the little things even more than what I was doing before as far as understanding the system and getting a good feel for the program. So far everything is going great.”
For guys like Dawson and Harris who had to essentially be thrown into the fire to learn Fangio’s scheme on the fly last year, I’m sure they’re appreciative of the additional time now to really dig in and get the install process that they missed out on last year. Which could be huge for both of those guys’ development and a potential jump in play this year.
Dawson said he definitely feels like his playing time will increase this coming season (he played 32% of defensive snaps last year), and he is ready to play anywhere the coaches put him - outside, slot, or wherever.
The third year corner also said the secondary has bonded really well over last season and this offseason and is excited to play together with them again.
“It’s a brotherhood in that room. Everyone gets along, and we’re so well connected. You know having a room like that, you wanna go out and give it your all each and every game you prepare for, and so we’re just continue to build that brotherhood and that bond.”
That’s encouraging to hear and also exciting to think about since everyone was so new to both each other and the defense last year, in a system that requires a lot of communication, I expect we’ll see a second year leap from this defense just by nature of that alone.
“I feel like everyone’s starting to find themselves and see what we’ve got, you know we got a pretty good team man, I feel like we can go a long way with it. Everybody’s excited coming into the second year with coach Fangio,” Dawson said. “And I feel like it’s gonna be a great season ahead of us.”
Check out the full interview with Dawson here, or in the player above.