DENVER — Bradley Chubb wasn’t himself last season.
That’s what he said if you can believe it. He had a better rookie year than Von Miller and Miller won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Yet, Chubb, who apparently is a bit of a perfectionist, says the first-year version of himself doesn’t stack up to what he’s about to become.
“I’m trying to be the best version of me,’’ Chubb told 9NEWS after his dominating performance in the Broncos’ preseason game Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers. “I feel like last year at the beginning of the season I started off slow. And even when I watched film from last year, I was like, 'Who is that guy? Playing high, playing slow, getting-off slow.'
“It burns down deep inside because I know what I could do and with the coaches I’ve got – coach Staley, coach Fangio, Von – all these guys have been encouraging me this whole offseason, seeing what I can do and expecting the best out of me every day so that’s what I try to do, be my best.”
Mercy. Chubb was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Broncos were looking at quarterbacks but Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were gone by the time their No. 5 pick came around.
Chubb did have a sluggish start last season with just 1.5 sacks through the Broncos’ first five games. But then came a 5.0 sack-in-four-day span – 3.0 sacks game against the Rams’ Jared Goff and 2.0 more against Arizona’s Josh Rosen in back-to-back games.
Chubb finished with 12.0 sacks, a half more than Miller had in his Rookie of the Year season of 2011. Chubb had a great chance to break the NFL rookie record of 14.5 sacks set by Tennessee’s Jevon Kearse in 1999, but he finished in another slump, failing to get a sack in his final three games.
That rookie wall? It’s real.
Kearse never again matched his rookie output. There are signs Chubb is just getting started. Beginning with his motor. Chubb goes hard every play. And he has the skill set and body composition at 6-foot-4, 275 pounds to have that work ethic rewarded.
There were times during the Broncos’ OTAs in the spring when left tackle Garett Bolles couldn’t handle him. Chubb – who is usually described as a power rusher, especially when compared to Miller, who is about strength and flexibility – also handled decorated left tackle Joe Staley at times during the Broncos’ joint practice sessions against the San Francisco 49ers and again Monday night.
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On the first series of the game, Chubb used not power, but a technique move that caused Staley, a six-time Pro Bowler, to completely whiff on his block attempt. Chubb got in the grill of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who was rushed into a terrible throw that was intercepted by Broncos’ cornerback Isaac Yiadom.
Later, Chubb overpowered San Francisco’s second-string left tackle Justin Skule, a sixth-round rookie, and strip-sacked backup quarterback C.J. Beathard.
"You want to go against the best,'' Chubb said. "That's what you're in the NFL for, you get to play against the best of the best. Joe Staley has been doing this for a long time and when I go out there I want to make my mark on somebody who's been doing it at a high level for what (13) years?
"I just want to be the best me, whether that's against a rookie left tackle or 15-year vet, just be the best me and I feel like it will always work out like that."
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