Denver Broncos, NFL

Vic Fangio will try to turn Bradley Chubb into Khalil Mack next season

Bradley Chubb had a great rookie season for the Broncos, but Vic Fangio’s arrival in Denver could turn him into the next Khalil Mack.

There are a lot of questions about who will be the long-term answer at quarterback for the Denver Broncos, but hiring Vic Fangio as the team’s head coach was clearly a defensive maneuver. Fangio’s arrival in the Mile High City is particularly exciting for talented edge rushers like Bradley Chubb.

The former NC State star had a productive rookie campaign for the Broncos. Any time a first year pro manages to notch 12 sacks he’s clearly doing something right. On the other hand, it’s also fair to expect Chubb to grow significantly as he heads into his sophomore campaign.

To Chubb’s credit, he’s very excited about the opportunity to play in Fangio’s innovative defensive scheme. Even though he hasn’t had a chance to work out under his new boss, he’s already studying tape of what he did last season for the Bears defense. In particular, Chubb is locked in on trying to learn all of the ways Fangio used Khalil Mack in 2018.

Mack revolutionized the Bears defense after coming over from Oakland in a trade. He may have only sacked the quarterback 10 times in 14 games, but he also managed to force six fumbles and secure an interception for his team. Mack disrupted everything opposing offenses tried to get going against the Chicago defense.

It’s easy to see that Fangio is going to try to unleash Chubb in the same way. A big part of that plan will be to teach the second-year player how to play multiple positions. Part of what made Mack so dangerous last year was the unpredictable nature of where he might line up on a given play. Chubb can’t stay anchored to the defensive end/outside linebacker slot if he wants to wreak the same type of havoc in 2019.

Fortunately for Chubb, the Broncos have enough talented players up front to allow him that type of positional flexibility. Von Miller isn’t quite as explosive as he was during his prime, but he’s still an excellent pass rusher in his own right. The franchise might elect to add one more player to their front-seven mix in the draft, but that certainly isn’t a requirement.

The key for Fangio will be to avoid the temptation to pile too much on Chubb too soon. Mack arrived in Chicago as a veteran. Giving a second-year player too much responsibility immediately might overwhelm him mentally and slow him down on the field. That would be a terrific way to screw up a guy who is already capable of tallying double-digit sacks.

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Broncos fans have every right to be concerned about their offense next season, but the defense could be nasty in the best way possible. If Fangio can turn Chubb into a player who gives Denver a healthy percentage of what Mack gives the Bears, they could easily become a top-five defense in the NFL.

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