Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray believes one of the NFL’s elite defenses can get even better. He just needs to get on the field.
“We’re sitting at 14th in the league in pass rush and sacks, and I feel like with my return, we can definitely be back in the top 5,” Ray said on the Afternoon Drive, per Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann of Mile High Report. “That’s where we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be one of best pass rush teams in the AFC West. That’s why we’re dominant. Especially what we do in the run game, stopping guys up front, creating long third downs. I feel like a lot of opportunities coming from me and a lot of electricity I can bring when I’m healthy.”
It is fair to point out that the Broncos aren’t quite as good against the pass this year. It’s been their strong suit for a few years now, and they’re still in the top third of the league, but they’re no longer ranked No. 1. A big part of that may be the slip out of the top 5 in pass rush.
The key piece there is linebacker Von Miller, but it’s clear that he can’t do it all on his own. Teams just double-team him – and, sometimes, hold him – to slow him down. In the past, having DeMarcus Ware on the other side opened things up, but Ware is now retired. Shaq Barrett has been very good, but he’s no DeMarcus Ware. Few people are.
Ray isn’t either, at least not yet, but he’s a former first-round pick. A draft-day slide meant the Broncos felt like he could have been a top-10 pick. He was in line to have a breakout season this year, finally getting that starting role, before the injury. If he can come back on fire and really get things going, the Broncos could be an even more fearsome defense than they are now.
Ray is set to return against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 30.
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