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Getting Bradley Chubb’s pass-rush game restarted should be priority for Broncos’ defense

The Broncos’ run defense, which allowed 92 and 203 yards in the past two weeks, has been a justifiable talking point heading into Sunday’s game against Miami.

But Broncos coach/defensive play-caller Vic Fangio should have spent time this week on another pressing issue: Getting outside linebacker Bradley Chubb restarted. Chubb was kept off the scorecard entirely in losses to Atlanta and Las Vegas. No pressures. No knockdowns. No sacks.

“We have to do a better job overall on first and second down of getting into some more third downs,” Fangio said Friday. “Last week, there really weren’t a lot of throws, but Bradley has been getting close.”

Kind of, sort of.

Atlanta and Las Vegas both went 6-of-13 on third down against the Broncos. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was 5-of-10 passing on third down (five conversions, including two touchdowns), and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was 6-of-9 passing (four conversions).

The Raiders and Falcons combined for 69 total drop-backs, which squashes the Broncos’ narrative that falling behind has led to opponents fully committing to the running game. Per The Denver Post’s game charting, Chubb had 58 pass rushes against Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Against Atlanta (31 pass rushes), he lined up at right outside linebacker on every pass rush snap. He was double-teamed four times and chip-blocked three times. Against Las Vegas (27 pass rushes), he was at right outside linebacker on 21 plays, used as an interior rusher on six plays and lined up at left outside linebacker on two plays. He was double-teamed five times and chip-blocked twice.

Fangio switched things up at Las Vegas in an effort to get Chubb going. On the interior pass rushes, Chubb lined up over the left and right guards.

“That was my first time down there this season and those guys didn’t know what to expect from me or what was coming,” he said. “Just being able to run those ‘games’ with the ends and me being able to switch roles and set the pick, it was a cool experience. Hopefully, I get some more opportunities.”

The production when Chubb has received pass-rushing opportunities has been hit and miss. His season can be divided into three parts.

Part 1 (Games 1-2): No sacks and 2 1/2 total disruptions (1 1/2 knockdowns and one pressure). The Broncos went 0-2.

Part 2 (Games 3-7): A whopping 14 1/2 total disruptions (5 1/2 sacks, four knockdowns and five pressures). The Broncos went 3-2.

Part 3 (Games 8-9): Nothing cooking. The Broncos went 0-2.

The correlation is easy to see. When Chubb creates chaos, the Broncos win.

“Sometimes (getting shut out) happens on a week-to-week basis, but we’re good with the way (Chubb) is rushing and confident he’ll get home at some point,” Fangio said.

Said Chubb: “I can’t get frustrated about it. It’s the way the game is going to be played so you have to go out there and change it. Go out there and do something about it. As a rusher, I need to get my hands up and prevent those quick throws and maybe make a move a little bit quicker. Whatever it takes to give that 1% more, I’m going to try and do that the rest of the season.”

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