Denver Broncos: Josey Jewell’s injury derails his quiet ascent

Denver Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos linebacker Josey Jewell. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Though the Denver Broncos have moved to 2-0 and hopes are high about this team’s prospects as they rally around Comeback Player of the Year candidates Von Miller, Teddy Bridgewater, and Courtland Sutton, the team has lost a key defender for the rest of the season already.

Inside linebacker Josey Jewell went out with an apparent shoulder injury, and now it has come out that he will be shut down for the year with a pectoral injury. Tears like these are common in front-seven defenders, and it’s a heartbreaker for everyone involved, especially considering just how good Josey was looking to start the year.

On tape, his positioning in coverage looked finely tuned and he made a key breakup week one, and his trademark run-blasting ways were on display week two as he notched two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Losing him for the rest of the year is a blow to this defense, and his absence will put more pressure on four Denver Broncos in particular.

Justin Strnad, obviously as the backup was asked to step in yesterday, and in his debut appearance in this defense, he logged six tackles. Strnad, a 2020 fifth-rounder sat out last year with a wrist injury, but looked sharp in his first NFL action and brings high-level sideline to sideline speed. He looked aggressive against the run and hopes to be a boon to this coverage unit over the middle.

Alexander Johnson has been Josey Jewell’s partner in crime in the middle of this defense for some time now, and now he’ll have to step up his level of play to compensate for the loss. Jewell was not only a stout inside linebacker, but he was also this defense’s signal-caller and it’ll likely fall to Johnson to take over those duties as he brings Strnad along.

The moves at linebacker will also affect the back end of this defense, and we could see Kareem Jackson and/or Justin Simmons moved down into the box more often as this unit moves forward without their starting play caller.

Luckily, this tandem of safeties could be one of the best in the league, and both are fully capable of playing down against the run. This could place more pressure on the corners as well, but the Denver faithful know just how good this pair can be when rolled down off the top into the front seven.

Another signing at linebacker is also a possibility, and while they have two more ‘backers behind Strnad and Johnson in rookie Baron Browning and special teamer Jonas Griffith, bringing in a veteran could be a good option.

No matter how you slice it, losing a starter in the middle of the defense, and the unit’s play-caller no less will impact the team, but this is a deep and talented defense that is capable of filling the gap and moving forward.

Best wishes to Josey Jewell and his family in the recovery process, and we in Broncos Country can’t wait to see more highlights like this in the future.