Justin Simmons believes Broncos are getting ‘really close’ to reaching postseason

Justin Simmons has enjoyed tremendous personal success thus far in the NFL. He’s blossomed into arguably the best safety that the league has to offer and was just recently paid as such, inking a deal in March that now makes him the highest-paid player at his position. While you can stack that individual success up against any player in the league over his tenure, one area that has been lacking for Simmons has been overall team success. 

Denver was coming off the high of winning Super Bowl 50 when it drafted Simmons in the third round in 2016. While the now 27-year-old saw a glimpse of that success upon arrival, the best his Broncos teams have done since his arrival was a 9-7 campaign over the course of his rookie season. Beyond that, Denver has been an under-.500 club the past four seasons. 

That said, there is optimism surrounding the franchise with Simmons owning the belief that his team is in a position to contend as soon as this upcoming 2021 season. 

“I feel like we’re really close,” Simmons told NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Thursday. “We’re finally having a year where we’re having coordinators come back and guys are familiar with the schemes and the systems, both on offense and defense and on special teams. I feel like we’re really close. I feel like this could be the year and I’m really excited for that. I’ve been itching for it ever since I came into the league — 9-7 is the closest I’ve been. And so I’m really looking forward to this season.”

While the Broncos certainly have attractive pieces already in-house, the X factor in whether or not Simmons is right to feel bullish about his squad’s chances this year centers around the quarterback position. Currently, Denver is set to have an open competition between Teddy Bridgewater — who was acquired from the Panthers prior to the draft — and incumbent 2020 starter Drew Lock. Whoever wins that job will need to play at a high level for the team to contend in a highly competitive division. Play within the AFC West must also improve dramatically after going 1-5 against their rivals last season. 

“In our division, we got teams like the Chiefs, the Raiders and the Chargers, those are some high-powered offenses,” said Simmons. “So we’re going to need a defense that’s ready to go week in and week out because we play the best in our division. In terms of team defensive goals, we want to be No. 1. We have the talent across the board to be able to get after the quarterback, get some turnovers, that’s an area that we’ve struggled in the past couple years. So we’re just really looking forward to competing out there and going against some of the best offenses in the league. Like I said, from a defensive standpoint, we feel like we can be No. 1, and so that’s our goal.”

As it relates to Simmons’ specific side of the ball, he has a right to feel strongly about their chances of being a top-flight unit. The secondary drafted corner Patrick Surtain II in the first round of the draft and signed Kyle Fuller in free agency, making that unit much deeper. Of course, the pass-rushing attack also has the potential to be among the league’s best if Von Miller and Bradley Chubb stay healthy as well. 

All that said, it still comes back to the quarterback position. If Denver can find some strong play out of that critical spot, it will be one step closer to competing for a playoff spot. If it can’t, Simmons’ playoff debut will have to wait a little while longer. 

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