The Denver Broncos’ secondary was a disappointment in 2021 according to PFF

Justin Simmons on the sideline. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.
Justin Simmons on the sideline. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing, USA TODAY Sports.

Last season it was constantly discussed throughout Broncos Country how the Broncos had a remarkable secondary both in terms of top-end talent and depth. While the defense on the whole performed well, the highly touted and extremely expensive appears to have been a disappointment, according to Pro Football Focus.

In a recent article from PFF ranking the 2021 performances of every secondary unit in the league, the Broncos ranked 17th, which is problematic considering just how much Denver invested into ensuring a strong secondary.

One could argue that both of their biggest free-agent acquisitions from last off-season were in the secondary, and they spent four draft picks — including their top-nine selection — on secondary pieces. Plus, they signed Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson to extensions. Yet, despite having more cap space invested into the secondary than anyone, more draft capital invested into the secondary than almost anyone, and a coaching staff whose focus was almost entirely defensive, Denver’s secondary was no better than average.

“The Broncos’ secondary underwhelmed to a certain extent in 2021, with veteran safety Kareem Jackson and cornerback free agent pickups Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby all producing poor coverage grades below 60.0,” PFF analyst Anthony Treash wrote. “On the other hand, safety Justin Simmons¬†sustained his high-level play by finishing as one of the 10 most valuable players at the position.”

Simmons wasn’t the only positive in Denver’s secondary either, as George Paton seems to have unearthed a potential superstar with his first-ever selection as the Broncos’ general manager.

“Rookie Patrick Surtain II also showed a lot of promise and looks like a star in the making,” Treash continued. “After a few poorly graded games in the first quarter of the season, the first-round pick stepped up and was a legitimate CB1 for Denver. From Week 7 on, he was one of the 25 highest-graded players at the position and allowed more than 60 yards in coverage just once this season.”

Hopefully, a culture overhaul brought on by a new coaching staff will have this supremely talented secondary playing at the level it was always expected to be at.

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