The Denver Broncos cut CB Ronald Darby last offseason and inserted Damarri Mathis into their starting lineup in place of Darby. Well, Mathis was benched last week, further proving that this was the wrong decision by the team. I get that the Broncos cutting Darby is months-old news, but it's worth talking about.
It's especially worth talking about because the Denver Broncos defense has been the worst in the NFL through seven weeks, and CB Damarri Mathis was actually a huge culprit in the unit being as bad as it was. However, when Ronald Darby was here for the 16 games that he played in, the secondary was rock-solid.
So I think it's fair to further question the decision by the Denver Broncos to outright release Ronald Darby as he was finishing up his torn ACL recovery. Darby, a few years ago, signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Broncos. Darby is not a ballhawk by any means, but he was absolutely stellar in coverage for the Broncos.
He tore his ACL in Week 5 of the 2022 NFL Season and missed the rest of that year. He was then cut in the offseason and proceeded to latch on with the Baltimore Ravens for pennies. He's played in all seven games for Baltimore this year. In those seven games, he's notched four passes defended, 16 total tackles, and one tackle for loss.
And if you are one to reference PFF grades, Darby has a 66.4 grade, and Damarri Mathis has a 35.1 grade. Mathis also has just one pass defended in seven games. To make matters worse, he was picked on a ton when he was in the lineup, so the fact that he hardly made a play on the ball is kind of depressing. Mathis was replaced in the lineup in Week 7 by Fabian Moreau, a low-end starter but a true veteran at the position.
Moreau held his own and is likely to remain in the starting lineup going forward. Perhaps Moreau replacing Mathis could be another small turning point for the Denver Broncos defense. The unit has allowed just 22.3 points per game over the last three weeks after allowing nearly 40 PPG over the first four games.
The defense has gotten better, and Damarri Mathis no longer being in the starting lineup should help that, but let's not forget that Denver cut ties with a very good CB just to save a little bit of cap space.