Broncos will be fine without T.J. Ward

Neil Hornsby explains why starting strong safety T.J. Ward's one-game suspension isn't a big loss.

| 2 years ago

Broncos will be fine without T.J. Ward

This has been a good preseason for the Broncos’ defense, with first-round draft pick Shane Ray looking like he can be an impactful edge rusher and 2014 undrafted free agent Shaquil Barrett also displaying pass-rushing ability off the edge.

The first cloud appeared yesterday in the form of a one-game suspension for strong safety T.J. Ward. His M.O. in Cleveland was as an excellent run-support safety who sometimes struggled in coverage — and generally the further he gets away from the line of scrimmage. That trait continued with the Broncos and was exactly mirrored by his grades last year (overall +1.9 but -7.2 in coverage). He was named to the Pro Bowl, but that’s more of a sad indictment of the way that honor is now awarded than it is a reflection of Ward’s performance.

If the preseason is anything to go by, it’s likely his position will be filled by David Bruton in Denver’s Week 1 game against the Ravens. He’s a special teams stalwart, but in the 235 snaps he was asked to fill in last year, he acquitted himself remarkably well, netting a +3.7 grade including +4.5 in coverage. He’s not the force Ward is “in the box,” but may be a better bet when playing with both safeties deep.

| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

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