With Vic Fangio calling the plays, the Denver Broncos finished the 2021 season with the third-best scoring defense in the NFL. Denver hadn’t ranked in the top five since 2016. Now, one certain Bronco thinks the team, in one of the toughest divisions in the league, has what it takes to be one of the best defenses again.
Denver cornerback Michael Ojemudia joined 104.3 The Fan on July 30 and was asked how he thinks this defense stacks up against the others in the AFC West.
“I think we’re the best,” Ojemudia said. “Led by Justin [Simmons] and Kareem [Jackson] and Pat [Surtain II] and all those guys. I think, top down, we’re just really hungry and we’re going to put the best body of work together.”
When asked if he was scared of the other teams, Ojemudia confidently responded, “Not at all.”
He made only one start last season after he was pushed down the depth chart behind Surtain, Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan. Ojemudia, a third-round pick in 2020, suffered a hamstring injury and started the season on the injured reserve before appearing in only two games.
The Stacked AFC West
Denver, which signed Randy Gregory, D.J. Jones and K’Wuan Williams, wasn’t the only team that improved on defense in their division.
The Los Angeles Chargers, who ranked 29th in points allowed last season, didn’t lose any big-time players in the offseason. Instead, the Chargers added linebackers Khalil Mack and Kyle Van Noy to bring some more depth to the edge and pair up with Joey Bosa.
Cornerbacks J.C. Jackson and Bryce Callahan also signed with the baby blue and yellow to bring some more experience to the secondary with safety Derwin James and second-year cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.
The Las Vegas Raiders added pass rusher Chandler Jones to help Maxx Crosby on the opposite side.
For a team that ranked 26th in points allowed in 2021, Las Vegas lost quite of bit on defense, including Yannick Ngakoue, Nick Kwiatkoski, Cory Littleton and Carl Nassib.
The Kansas City Chiefs were similar to the Raiders on defense in the offseason.
The Chiefs lost safety Tyrann Mathieu and pass rusher Melvin Ingram, but they did add 25-year-old safety Justin Reid.
Even though the Chiefs finished with a top 10 scoring defense, Kansas City didn’t make any dramatic changes to their defense.
Insight From Camp
CENTENNIAL, Colorado — The Denver defense continues to look dominant after the first five days of training camp.
Surtain is ready to take that next step in becoming one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. During the team’s August 1 practice, Surtain made a big-time pass deflection against Denver’s No. 1 wide receiver, Courtland Sutton.
Denver is still looking for one tight end to stand out. In a perfect world, Albert Okwuegbunam and rookie Greg Dulcich would be the top two guys for the Broncos. Instead, it’s been veterans Eric Saubert and Eric Tomlinson.
Saubert has caught multiple touchdowns in camp so far and Tomlinson has caught plenty of passes from Russell Wilson despite everyone calling him the team’s blocking tight end.
Denver also just removed speedy wide receiver K.J. Hamler from the PUP list and had him practice for the first time on August 1.
Javonte Williams is the No. 1 running back, but Melvin Gordon and Mike Boone are getting plenty of first-team reps as well. After he gained 900 yards on the ground as a rookie, everyone is excited to see what Williams can do in a zone blocking scheme.
Last but not least is Russell Wilson. The former Super Bowl champion has looked just fine at best during camp so far. Wilson nearly threw an interception to Josey Jewell over the middle when targeting Jerry Jeudy.
Wilson’s deep ball hasn’t looked great at all. Of the deep balls he has thrown, many of them have been underthrown. Something to keep an eye on as training camp and the preseason move forward.