No defensive end has won NFL Comeback Player of the Year since the Cowboys’ Greg Ellis in 2007. Denver end Bradley Chubb is a legit candidate to win it this year, however. Here are Chubb’s odds at Mybookie to win 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year as well as the Broncos’ over/under win total.
Chubb was the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and the first defensive end off the board. The former NC State star started in all 16 games and recorded 60 combined tackles (41 solo), 12 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one pass deflection. He received an overall grade of 68.9 from Pro Football Focus, which ranked 48th among all qualifying edge rushers in 2018.
Excellent rookie year. The only other rookie defensive end to ever record at least 12 sacks: Jevon Kearse, Aldon Smith, Dwight Freeney, Reggie White, Leslie O’Neal, Simeon Rice, Mark Anderson, Charles Haley, Julius Peppers and Terrell Suggs.
Last year, however, Chubb suffered a season-ending torn ACL in Week 4 loss to the Jaguars. Rather amazingly, Chubb played through it for nearly a full quarter. Chubb’s injury happened during the first minute of the fourth quarter, and apparently, he wasn’t aware of the severity of what had happened, because he decided to keep playing.
Shoot, he almost helped win the game. With the Broncos leading 24-23 and just 90 seconds left on a second-and-10 from the Jacksonville 25, Chubb blew past his blocker and he forced a fumble. If the Broncos had been able to jump on the ball, it would have iced the game, but instead, Minshew recovered the fumble and ended up completing a pass. The Jags would kick a field goal as time expired. That loss was easily Chubb’s best game of 2019 as he seven tackles, one sack, three QB hits and one tackle for loss. It was his first game with a sack. The Broncos defense hardly fell apart without Chubb, ranking 10th in points allowed per game. Overall, they gave up 24 or fewer points in all but one of their final nine games.
Chubb wouldn’t have been ready to participate in OTAs this offseason had there been any – there weren’t due to the coronavirus. He will be ready for training camp. When stay-at-home orders went into effect earlier this year, the NFL closed its facilities to everyone except players already in medical rehab and a few trainers. It meant Chubb was still going to work each day at the Broncos’ complex when others, including coaches and personnel people, were not.
“It was weird, just very quiet,” Chubb said. “And it was some days people didn’t feel like talking it would be a quiet room, just working out in a quiet room. We did a good job trying to make sure we had that same energy every day in training room, but it definitely wore on you seeing the same people over and over and doing the same thing over and over.”
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell recently said Chubb is “full speed and ready to go.”
“We’ve seen him running on tape, and he’s full speed and ready to go,” Donatell said in a conference call, via NFL.com. “You’ll see a really good year from him.”
As Von Miller begins his decline due age, the Broncos are banking on Chubb filling the void as he enters his prime NFL years. But it’s all contingent on him bouncing back from that knee injury, which represented the second ligament-tear knee injury he’s suffered in his football career (high school). The 31-year-old Miller last year failed to record double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, when he played just nine games.
In their most recent, and only, season playing together, the two combined for 26.5 sacks. That was the Broncos’ best two-person sack total since Miller and Elvis Dumervil combined for 29.5 sacks in 2012. Chubb’s 12 sacks in 2018 set a franchise rookie record, eclipsing the 11.5-sack mark Miller set in 2011.
Denver is a 2-point home favorite for Week 1 on Monday night vs. Tennessee.