By Chad Jensen
(247 SPORTS) – The Denver Broncos might be eliminated from playoff contention, but that doesn’t mean the team has lost purpose. The Broncos sit at 6-8 and are staring down the barrel of another sub-.500 finish, which would be the first time that’s happened in Denver since 1972.
For the sake of pride, the Broncos hopefully will play hard these two remaining games. But avoiding the ignominy of that losing record isn’t the only thing this team has left to play for.
Rookie outside linebacker Bradley Chubb has history at stake — a true shot at one of the most enduring records in the NFL. The all-time rookie sack record.
With 12 sacks on the season, Chubb is only 2.5 behind the record, held by Jevon Kearse since 1999 — nearly two decades. Three sacks would give Chubb the record all to himself.
He’s so close, he can almost taste it. However, with two games left to go, time is running out.
“Since I’m this close, it seems like it’s a goal that is attainable,” Chubb said on Thursday. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game, and if it happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, it’s cool. At the end of the day, I’m going to try and get it, but I’m not going to force it. I’m going to play pass on every play and stuff like that. It’ll be a great achievement, though.”
For what its worth, Von Miller is going to do whatever it takes on his end to help his rookie partner make history.
“Chubb is only three sacks away from breaking the rookie sack record and I’m going to do everything I can in my ability to make sure that happens for him,” Miller said on Thursday.
But what specifically can Miller do to help his pard? After all, it was easy for Brett Favre to lay down so that Michael Strahan could get the single-season sack record. I don’t suppose either Derek Carr or Philip Rivers will be so inclined for Chubb.
“I can get close to the sack and he slips out of my hands (laughs)—but no, just keep being the same player I am,” Miller said. “I try to get attention over here. [DE Derek] Wolfe and me, we garner a lot of attention over there and I want to play as best as I can to keep that attention over by me to get Chubb one-on-one.”
For his part, the No. 5 overall pick appreciates his teammate(s) being willing to help him get over the hump. Three sacks, two games…
“That’s definitely great team leadership, teammate-ship, all of that,” Chubb said. “So, it’ll be pretty cool if that happens, but I highly doubt that will happen because he’s got to get his too. He’s got to get that 100 [for his career] too.”
Miller’s 14.5 sacks this year have given him the Broncos’ all-time record. Miller passed Simon Fletcher last week vs. the Browns and now has 98 career sacks.
Combined, Miller and Chubb have posted 26.5 sacks this season — the most by any NFL pass-rushing duo this year. To put it in perspective, the entire Broncos defense only posted 33 sacks all of last year.
The next closest pass-rushing duo to Miller and Chubb are the Chiefs’ Chris Jones (14) and Dee Ford (11.5). Ford was voted to the Pro Bowl over Bradley Chubb, despite having one half sack and six tackles less than the Broncos’ rookie.
Meanwhile, Miller received his seventh career Pro Bowl election, with Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney earning the third outside linebacker slot in the AFC. Is it fair to say that Chubb was snubbed?
Absolutely, if I might be so bold as to answer my own question. Clowney has had a fine season, but nowhere near as prolific as Chubb’s — who has four more sacks and 14 more tackles than the Texans’ star. If Chubb’s historic season is not worthy of a Pro Bowl selection, I don’t know what else he could do, honestly, though he is listed as an alternate.
There’s really only one explanation why Chubb was iced out of the NFL all-star game. The Broncos are not a winning football team. Meanwhile, the Chiefs and Texans are the AFC’s No. 1 and No. 2 playoff seed, respectively, at the moment. Team success does contribute to an individual player’s ability to garner accolades.
As it stands, Chubb is already one of only 10 players ever to notch at least 12 sacks in a rookie season. Pro Bowl? How about history?
At the end of the day, though, all Bradley Chubb can do is focus on himself and getting that record. The Broncos have already received an enormous return on their top-five investment.
“I was just telling somebody earlier. If you told me I was, I would be like, ‘Alright, maybe. Ok, I could see it.’ But I never really would’ve actually saw it happening,” Chubb reflected. “Right now, it’s been all surreal, been a blessing. I’m just trying to maintain as much as I can and just go out there and make plays. Like I said, if it happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, then it’s all good. I’m still impressed with my season, and this is going to be a lot for next year.”