AFC West: Aaron Schobel

What's next for Denver?

August, 5, 2010
I just caught up with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to discuss how the Denver Broncos will handle the loss of Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil is expected to be out for four months with a ton pectoral muscle. The linebacker led the NFL with 17 sacks last season.

Williamson’s prognosis for Denver without Dumervil is not good.

“Pass rushers don’t grow on trees,” Williamson said. “Denver really has nothing without Dumervil.”

Williamson is not thrilled at all with former first-round picks, Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers, who are Denver's top in-house pass-rush options.

Williamson on Moss: “The Broncos can’t count on him at all. He is not the answer.”

Williamson on Ayers: “I don’t trust Ayers at all. I think he’s a bad fit for the 3-4, anyway … I bet Denver wishes it would have taken Brian Orakpo last year."

Denver will surely look at free-agent possibilities. Yet, there are not great 3-4 options. Aaron Schobel is the top pass rusher available, but he’s a 4-3 player. There are other 4-3 players, such as the aging Leonard Little and Adewale Ogunleye. In Denver, those two players would likely only be third-down options.

“They couldn’t play in the 3-4, but they could come in and go after he quarterback on third down,” Williamson said. “It’s not perfect, but it’s better than what Denver has now.”

Greg Ellis has 3-4 experience, but he is old and banged up. Adalius Thomas is still available, and he was in New England with Denver coach Josh McDaniels. However, rushing the passer was never Thomas’ forte.

“I really don’t know what Denver can do at this point,” Williamson said. “It’s terrible timing.”
Elvis Dumervil’s nickname is “Doom.”

It used to be because the small, but mighty linebacker meant despair for opposite offenses. Now, the nickname means his 2010 season is doomed.

There is no way out of this one, folks. The Denver Broncos’ season just took a brutal hit. I’m not sure the defense can survive it. Yes, it’s that bad.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Dumervil suffered a torn pectoral muscle during a Wednesday evening practice and will be out about four months. Now, Denver will have to decide if it should save a roster spot for Dumervil for a chance for him to play in the final few games of the season, or to put him on the injured reserve, ending his season. This is the biggest NFL injury of the year so far.

Dumervil is a dominant pass rusher and he’s Denver’s best defensive player. He led the NFL with 17 sacks last season in his first season as a 3-4 linebacker. Denver just rewarded him with a new six-year contract extension with more than $43 million in guaranteed money.

Denver gave him the big money because he is the player it is building its future around. He’s a cornerstone player. Now, he will have to wait until 2011 to make an impact.

If Dumervil isn’t Denver’s best overall player, he is a close second to left tackle Ryan Clady. Yes, the same player who is rehabbing from a torn patella tendon in his knee, which he suffered while playing pickup basketball in April. The Broncos hope Clady is back early in the season. Denver is also without starting running back Knowshon Moreno, who suffered a hamstring injury Sunday. He is expected back this month. For a team with many question marks, these injuries are not ideal.

But the Dumervil injury is devastating. He set the tone for the defense. Now, Denver has no real pass-rush threat. Now, the pressure is on former first-round picks Jarvis Moss and Robert Ayers. Moss has been a complete flop and Ayers is entering a pivotal season after a rocky rookie season. The Broncos need one of these two players to step up.

Former Buffalo pass rusher Aaron Schobel will likely be linked to Denver now that Dumervil is hurt. However, one of the main reasons Schobel wanted out of Buffalo was that the Bills were moving to a 3-4 defense. He is much more comfortable as a 4-3 player. So, the Broncos are not a great fit for Schobel.

Dumervil is the perfect fit in Denver. In addition to being a great player, he is a leader and a favorite of his teammates. He represented hope in Denver. Now, suddenly, that hope is gone, perhaps for all of 2010.