Denver Broncos: How new-look defense could match Vic Fangio’s 2018 Bears
The Denver Broncos have made a strong effort to have one of the league’s best defenses in 2021.
New general manager George Paton has focused on strengthening the defense, reaching a deal with Justin Simmons, picking up the option on the contract of Von Miller, and signing two new cornerbacks in Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller.
In addition, both Shelby Harris and Kareem Jackson will be back in 2021. Paton made sure to keep key pieces intact while making a strong effort to improve on major areas of need. You would have to give Paton a passing grade thus far this offseason.
The Broncos appear to be attacking the 2021 season by being a team that wins defensively while having an offense that isn’t necessarily explosive, but one that can do enough to win games.
That is very much like the 2018 Chicago Bears. The defensive coordinator of those Bears was, of course, Vic Fangio.
The 2018 Bears’ offense was far from explosive. Led by Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, the offense did just enough to win games. And win games they did.
That was a very good Bears team. They went 12-4 that season and three of those four losses were by a field goal or less. After winning the NFC North title, the Bears went into the playoffs and many thought they could reach the Super Bowl.
What makes people easily forget about this Bears team was the fact that it lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs in a game that will forever be remembered as the “double doink”.
The Bears didn’t lose that game because of the defense. Fangio’s defense was the main reason the team went 12-4 that year and this Broncos team is being constructed similarly.
Let’s take a position-by-position look and see how these Broncos could be those Bears, hopefully with a much deeper playoff run.
The Bears allowed just 80 rush yards per game in 2018, the best number in the league. That started with the push the team got up front, primarily out of two defensive linemen, Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks.
Hicks was an animal in 2018, having what was easily the best season of his career. He finished that year with 7.5 sacks, five pass deflections and three forced fumbles. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
Shelby Harris has all the tools to do what Hicks did that year and perhaps even surpass him. Like Hicks, Harris is turning into one of the more disruptive defensive linemen in football.
Goldman was the force in the middle of the Bears’ defensive line that season and while he is stout against the run, he can put pressure on the quarterback as well.
The Broncos like Mike Purcell in the role of the big, bruising nose tackle and while he may not ever be as effective as Goldman, he has the ability to be a force.
The Broncos also have the developing Dre’Mont Jones, a guy who could help push this defensive line over the top.