Chubb, the Broncos’ first-round pick in April, was the guy who the Broncos believed was the best pass-rusher on the draft board and a player who was gifted enough to give Von Miller a little more room to work.
And when Miller trains his eyes on the 12-game sample the rookie has produced, Miller sees plenty more to come from a 270-pound prodigy.
“You see one of these toddlers on Instagram and they’re like 3 years old, but they’re doing things like grown men,” Miller said. “… That’s the same thing with Bradley Chubb. He’s a kid and he’s a baby and whatever you want to call him … but when I talk to him, I don’t feel like I’m talking to a rookie.”
The Broncos also have asked him to drop into coverage at times, set a reliable edge in run defense and generally do a lot of things they haven’t asked a lot of rookies to do over the years. Even a player as proficient as Miller was benched on occasion as a rookie in 2011 when he made a mistake or two with some assignments that didn’t include chasing a quarterback.
“That’s exactly what I see,” Miller said. “When I think of the Von I was, as a player and a person, in 2011, and I look at him, it’s so different. Bradley is so much beyond that in how he goes about things.”
Chubb needs just 1.5 sacks over the Broncos’ final four games to tie Miller’s team record for sacks by a rookie (11.5). Chubb also could certainly threaten Jevon Kearse’s NFL rookie record of 14.5 sacks, set in 1999, when Chubb was — wait for it — a 3-year-old.
“He’s more than advertised, and when I say that he deserved to be advertised the way he was, look at how he played in college, but he’s been more than advertised,” Miller said. “People ask if I think he’s the Defensive Rookie of the Year, of course I think he’s the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Sacks are hard to get and he gets them.”
For his part, Chubb has been the mild-mannered, even-keeled sort the Broncos saw in the pre-draft process. Chubb had a bumpy start to the year while the Broncos were figuring out how to use him and Chubb was figuring out how to attack NFL offensive linemen. The slow start also has made Chubb’s surge in the season’s second half even more impressive.
Chubb had 1.5 sacks over the Broncos’ first five games before the three-sack outburst against the Rams. That has led 8.5 sacks in the past seven games
“I think it was more just being comfortable and kind of understanding things,” Chubb said. “Just little things, like during a rush I would cut it back too soon because I didn’t want the quarterback to scramble and have it be my fault, things like that. You have to just play, study and do what you know how to do.”
The Broncos, with a three-game win streak in hand, have four games remaining to, as Miller puts it, “keep showing what kind of team we are.” And with the injuries on offense — this week wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders became the seventh Bronco who has started games on that side of the ball this season to go to injured reserve — Miller and Chubb will likely need to be better if Denver is going to stay in the postseason race.
“It’s all there for him,” Miller said of Chubb. “It’s all there for us. We just have to keep grinding at it, and I know he does that. Not too many rookies out there play like him, not many at all. If you’re me, you’re always going to want to be around guys like that. And I do. I told him to write his goals out on paper; now I think he’s going to need a lot of paper.”