Having good linebackers is crucial with how the offensive game has evolved in the NFL. The Denver Broncos believe that they have two players who can hold it down for them this upcoming season.

State of the Denver Broncos linebacker room

The Denver Broncos are excited for the return of the ‘Bash Bros’ this upcoming season when Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton take the field. While both players are the projected starters under Vance Joseph’s defense, there are other players on the roster who will also play pivotal roles.

Singleton and Jewell return in 2023
Last season, the Broncos defense once again carried the weight of the team for the majority of the year. Defensively, Denver’s defense had an aggressive identity that was built upon sending pressure after opposing quarterbacks, executing various stunts, and playing tight coverage to force takeaways.

Injuries impacted Denver’s linebacker group early on in the season which led to Alex Singleton and Jonas Griffith starting Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. Initially, it was expected that Josey Jewell and Griffith would be the starters at the position prior to Jewell dealing with an injury.

Singleton flashed on the tape as somebody who was near the football every single snap whether it was against the run or in passing situations. He led the Broncos in tackles this season, earning him a well-deserved contract extension.

Jewell returned to the lineup in Week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers and showcased why he was a starter, coming up big with nine tackles, one sack, two tackles for a loss, and two quarterback hits in Denver’s win. He maintained his status for the rest of the season but will be entering the final year of his deal in 2023.

Eventually, Singleton and Jewell would emerge as the starting duo under Ejiro Evero as the season progressed and they project to start under Vance Joseph.

Broncos linebackers can’t cover?
A common misconception that exists about Denver’s linebackers is that they cannot cover tight ends.

It’s important to provide context to this narrative because, for the past four seasons, the Broncos schematically have never asked their linebackers to cover tight ends one on one. When playing man coverage, the linebacker position’s main responsibility included coverage against the running back if they were aligned to their side or moved toward their side post-snap on an outlet release.

Instances where Denver’s linebackers dropped back into coverage, indicating it was zone coverage, where their responsibility was to cover the middle hook or hook-to-curl area. Sometimes Evero would ask Jewell or Singleton to spy the quarterback in certain situations. In today’s NFL landscape, safeties and players inside the nickel or dime hold the primary coverage responsibility against tight ends when in man coverage.

What about the depth behind the starters?
While the Broncos took care of Singleton in NFL Free Agency, they stood pat and didn’t add any other players to the roster.

As it currently stands, Jonas Griffith, Justin Strnad, and Ray Wilborn share the outlook that is the depth of the position behind Jewell and Singleton.

The Broncos tendered Griffith who was an exclusive rights free agent. Strnad approaches the final year of his contract, and Wilborn appeared in two games for Denver late last season.

Griffith has started for Denver previously and showcased potential that could see him step into a full-time role potentially after the 2023 season if Denver doesn’t retain Jewell who is in the final year of his contract.

Strnad hasn’t quite broken his way into the defensive lineup since 2021 where he played 31% of the team’s defensive snaps according to Pro Football Reference. He has demonstrated his value as a key special teams player — playing 84% of the snaps on special teams.

The former fifth-round Wake Forest product missed his rookie season due to a freak hand/nerve injury that sidelined him for the year. However, his football IQ and attention to detail are something that has helped him maintain his status in the National Football League — where he could see an even bigger role here in 2023.

He is a young player who should get every opportunity in training camp to make an even bigger name for himself.

With free agency over for the most part, the Broncos could look to add a linebacker with one of their five picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but as it currently stands — it appears Denver will move forward with these players at inside linebacker.