By Justin Adams

(CBS4) – Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons believes his team is “really close” to getting back to the playoffs. The fifth-year safety’s optimism for a postseason run is due to the upgrades on the roster and with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell returning for another season.

“We’re finally having a year where we’re having coordinators come back and guys are familiar with the schemes and the systems, both on offense and defense and on special teams,” Simmons said on NFL Network.

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Simmons was drafted in 2016, the season after the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. During his rookie season, the team went 9-7, which was the last time they had a winning record. Since then, Denver is 23-41 in the last four seasons. Despite missing out on the postseason for the last five years, Simmons is confident the team will be able to put it all together this season.

“I feel like this could be the year and I’m really excited for that. I’ve been itching for it ever since I came into the league — 9-7 is the closest I’ve been. And so, I’m really looking forward to this season,” he said.

For the Broncos playoff dreams to come true, they must improve in their division. Last season, Denver was 1-5 in the AFC West with the only win being the 31-30 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.

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“In our division, we got teams like the (Kansas City) Chiefs, the (Los Angeles) Raiders and the Chargers, those are some high-powered offenses. So, we’re going to need a defense that’s ready to go week in and week out because we play the best in our division,” Simmons said.

The Broncos defense is expected to be one of the strengths of the team, with the free agent signing of cornerbacks Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby, as well as drafting Patrick Surtain in the first-round. Also, with Von Miller coming back from an ankle injury, which wiped out his 2020 season, Simmons sees a defense that could be the best in the NFL.

“In terms of team defensive goals, we want to be No. 1. We have the talent across the board to be able to get after the quarterback, get some turnovers, that’s an area that we’ve struggled in the past couple years. So, we’re just really looking forward to competing out there and going against some of the best offenses in the league. Like I said, from a defensive standpoint, we feel like we can be No. 1, and so that’s our goal,” he said.

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The Broncos open training camp on July 28.

Justin Adams