With a week to absorb the news that Chris Harris has a torn ACL and will be out the remainder of the season and potentially even iffy for the start of next year, the Denver Broncos have had to make adjustments.
We saw on the team’s official website the depth chart reflected that Champ Bailey is the team’s new “number one” corner, slotted in the LCB spot, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is slotted as the RCB for Sunday’s matchup against New England.
If you could give the Broncos a completely clean bill of health across the board, the cornerback position is probably the best on the entire team. I know people want to bash Champ Bailey and say “he’s done” or “he’s too old” but I think that’s a complete joke. Anyone who watched more than one Broncos game last year knows that when Champ is healthy, he’s not done, and he’s been getting back to that level as he eases in from his foot injury.
If the Broncos have a healthy Champ Bailey back for this New England game, I think they can definitely sustain the blow with Harris being out for the season.
It obviously sucks to lose a guy like Harris, who is a lock-down nickel corner and one of the surest tacklers the Broncos have, but we also haven’t seen this team with a healthy Bailey-DRC duo all year long.
With a week to prepare and scheme with Bailey and DRC on the edges, the Broncos have the opportunity to give the Patriots different looks from the nickel spot, which is where they are most assuredly going to try and attack the Denver D.
Luckily, the Broncos have three different backups at corner that have started or played significant roles this season, including Tony Carter, Kayvon Webster, and Quentin Jammer.
Jammer was burnt to a crisp last week against San Diego, so obviously he’s not the hot hand or he wasn’t ready for his number to be called in such a role.
For what it’s worth, it’s Jack Del Rio’s fault for not putting DRC in lock-down one-on-one with Keenan Allen, but that’s over and done with. If the Patriots find a hot hand, he needs to be immediately covered by DRC one-on-one the rest of the game.
And no diving after pointless hail mary throws.
The Broncos didn’t have DRC and Bailey last time they played the Pats, nor did they have a healthy Julius Thomas or a Wes Welker at 100 percent.
If you give the Broncos a healthy DRC and Bailey, I think their CB position is still very strong, even though you’re missing a Pro Bowl caliber athlete in Chris Harris.
The Broncos need to be physical with Patriots receivers, and I think the guy to do that is Kayvon Webster. Webster is one of the Broncos’ top young defensive backs in run support, and I think his toughness and physicality will help a bit to replace what Harris brings to the table.
Either way, the Broncos may have to go with a hot hand in the nickel, but on the edges, I think they are just as strong as they were before.