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Broncos notes: Explaining why Shaq Barrett isn't a Denver Bronco

Chris Harris Jr. explains his frustration following Jacksonville loss.
Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett forces a fumble by Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Los Angeles. The fumble was returned by a touchdown by the Buccaneers. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Bradley Chubb is injured and as everyone in the Rocky Mountain region has noticed, Shaq Barrett isn’t around to replace him.

Barrett is the early leader for NFL Defensive Player of the Year after registering 9 sacks and an interception in his first month of the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I’m not surprised,’’ holdover Broncos pass rusher Von Miller said at his press conference Thursday. “I’m definitely not surprised. All the plays that he’s making, he made them in practice. The spin versus the Rams, he’s done stuff like that. Interceptions, he’s done stuff like that here in practice. He’s had big-time sacks in games as well. I’m not surprised. Nine sacks through four games, I’m happy for him.”

According to multiple sources, Barrett informed the Broncos at the start of free agency in March he didn’t want to return because he wanted a chance to start. He came off the bench behind Miller and DeMarcus Ware in 2015-16, split the starting role with first-round Shane Ray opposite Miller in 2017, then sat behind Miller and first-round rookie Chubb last year.

Barrett’s best season statistically with the Broncos was 2015 when he had 5.5 sacks in a part-time role.

Credit: AP
Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson (27) escapes the reach of Denver Broncos linebacker Shaquil Barrett (48) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

He first visited the Cincinnati Bengals at the start of free agency in March before signing a one-year, $4 million deal with Tampa Bay. Now, had the Broncos offered him a two-year, $10 million deal to stay, would Barrett have returned? Most likely. Money always speaks to a team’s commitment in a player

But with the exception of Miller, no one expected Barrett to be this good. So instead of Barrett filling in for Chubb, who is out for the season with an ACL injury, the Broncos will turn to newly acquired Jeremiah Attaochu, and rookies Justin Hollins and Malik Reed.

“Malik is ready to go,’’ said Miller, who got his first two sacks of the season Sunday against Jacksonville. “Malik is ready to go, and I often talk about Shaq like, ‘Hey, Malik you can be that, too. You can have that type of success, too.’

“Shaq was here. Shaq played behind us just like Malik is doing now. With Malik, I point to Exhibit A with Shaq all the time.”

Credit: AP
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) and San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (74) work during the second half an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Hurry up! Put it up!

The Broncos have scored touchdowns on their final drives of three games this season, using their all-pass, hurry-up, no-huddle, 2-minute offense.

In those three TD drives, there were 24 pass attempts by quarterback Joe Flacco and two rush attempts.

But as Broncos’ offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello explained, it’s not practical to use the 2-minute offense in the first, second and third quarters.

“No, I wish you could,’’ he said. “You can do some (speed-up) tempo, but the reality of it is that you just don’t have the depth and bodies to go fast all the time. Like you said, you want to keep your defense off the field. It’s just different than college football where you’ve got 85 guys. We’re suiting up really four wideouts. If one of them gets hurt or gets tired, you just don’t have the depth to do those things.

“So yeah, you want to use tempo, you want to apply pressure where you can to the defense, but you’ve got to be smart how you approach that. I do feel we’ve been very efficient in two-minute. I think our system is growing together and that’s a good thing. Under the gun, they’ve had some successful drives, and we hope to continue that.”

Bronco Bits

While it’s promising defensive back Kareem Jackson will return from his hamstring injury this week and play against the Chargers, inside linebacker Josey Jewell missed another practice Thursday with his hamstring injury. …

Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on the frustration he voiced to teammates following the team’s final-play loss to Jacksonville on Sunday: “Just frustration with the team. Just losing and guys—it wasn’t just me frustrated, it was a bunch of other people frustrated. We want to win as bad as we can. When it comes down to it, guys put their hearts and souls into being winners and to win, especially at home. When you lose heart breakers like that at home, it definitely frustrates me. I’m a guy who hates to lose probably more than a lot of people.”

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