By: Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Broncos Country Tonight hosts Ryan Edwards and Ben Allbright asked their guests this week to pick the three most important players on both sides of the ball – and the answers are interesting.
The Broncos Country Tonight crew played off a recent quote from Dak Prescott in which he had been asked the three most important players to him on offense. Not surprisingly, Prescott named his three interior offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins.
“They’re the most important, if you ask me,” Prescott said. “From the time that I got drafted until now, this offense is built off of those guys. They’re the three most veteran guys on this team, and that’s for a reason … everything starts with them.”
Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright asked recent guests to determine who they think would be the three most important players on offense to the quarterbacks and defense to the head coach – and it made for a lot of interesting discussion.
Three most important offensive players to the QBs
Speaking to Cody Roark of Locked On Broncos on Monday, they asked who he believes would be the most important players to both Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, and it’s interesting the different positions Roark mentioned for each because it speaks to the strengths and weaknesses of both QBs.
For Lock he noted Courtland Sutton, Garett Bolles and Dalton Risner.
“Sutton’s No. 1 on that list; I think he’s very important to Drew Lock,” Roark said, adding that protection on the line from the left side was also very helpful for Lock last season. “When those two guys [Bolles and Risner] were healthy, there was continuity there and Broncos could run the ball to the left side…I think that was predicated on the chemistry those two had with one another.”
When it came to Bridgewater, a guy just learning the new offense, Roark leaned toward the skills players who would most likely play off Bridgewater’s passing strengths to find the short outlet guy – Jerry Jeudy, the tailback and Noah Fant.
“Teddy’s going to take whatever the defense gives him, so if everyone’s playing back, covering the deep routes and the intermediates, the backs will be open, so he’ll find him there or the short outlet guy, which I think Jerry Jeudy lined up in the slot could be that guy too,” Roark said.
Roark added that it’s really hard to say right now which offensive linemen could be crucial because he’s not sure Bridgewater has had enough time to “develop his chemistry with those guys yet.”
But Allbright did point out how important the center position will likely be this season – to both quarterbacks.
“By the time Denver played Atlanta last year, everybody figured out if they sugared the A-gaps against the Broncos, they were going to get pressure up the middle. And that seemed to be the way they attacked the Broncos,” he said. “The IL has got to be much improved this year for this team – no matter who is throwing the football – for this team to be successful.”
Steve Atwater didn’t even take a breath before answering the question when the guys asked him on Tuesday night:
“Lloyd Cushenberry, Graham Glasgow, Dalton Risner,” he said, adding “especially right up the middle.”
“We saw that last year where Lloyd didn’t hold up as well as he’s going to this year, and they had pressure in his face right away,” he pointed out. “And that’s the most direct, fastest pressure on the quarterback, so definitely right up the middle there is important.”
Three most important defensive players to Fangio
When it came to the defensive side and which three would be most important to Fangio, the architect of the defense, Atwater had a harder time.
“You’ve got to say Von Miller, and I think you have to say Justin Simmons as well,” Atwater said, then debating how many safeties he wanted to name or if needed a linebacker. He finally settled on a corner.
“I’m going to go with the rook; I’m going with Pat Surtain,” he said.
Edwards asked him why the rookie, and I have a feeling we might have seen Atwater roll his eyes at that if it hadn’t been on the radio.
“C’mon man, we were sitting right next to each other watching practice and we saw him jamming up receivers. We saw him bailing, playing zone coverage, playing COVER 2! And the speed and range that he has? He’s going to be on the field a lot. A lot. I don’t know who isn’t going to be on the field, but I know he’s going to be on the field.”
Ironically (or not so ironically), Roark chose two of the same with Simmons and Miller and also a cornerback but went with Bryce Callahan, a guy Fangio knows and trusts to run his defense.
“For the third guy, I have to go with Bryce Callahan,” he said. “The ability and success he had playing at inside and outside speaks volumes about his value.”
Your turn, Broncos Country…
Who you got – three most important players on offense to the quarterbacks, and three most important on defense to Vic Fangio?