When the Denver Broncos signed cornerback Quentin Jammer last week they likely put the finishing touches on their secondary for the 2013 season; a secondary that they hope will help them reach the Super Bowl. But considering how the 2012 season ended for the Broncos, should they feel secure with the make up of their secondary heading into the season?
Although Peyton Manning’s overtime interception against the Ravens was the play that ultimately ended Denver’s season, it was the failure of the Broncos secondary that put them in position to lose the game, as the defensive backfield became the scapegoat for Denver’s early playoff exit.
Both cornerback Champ Bailey and safety Rahim Moore experienced arguably the worst game of their careers in that playoff game against the Ravens. Moore’s flailing attempt to knock down Joe Flacco’s hail-Mary pass at the end of the game is a specter that will forever hang over Moore and the Broncos until they’re able to find some kind of redemption, while Bailey was beaten time after time against the Ravens in a way that had never happened before during his Hall-of-Fame career.
The fact that Bailey and Moore failed so miserably in the most important game of the season has to be a concern for the Broncos, especially since both will be starters that the Broncos will be relying on again this season. Most of the concern has to be for Bailey, who at age 34 is obviously at the tail end of his career, and the Broncos won’t know for sure until the regular season starts whether his performance against the Ravens was an aberration or a sign of things to come. To protect themselves against the latter, the Broncos added both Jammer and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in free agency.
In theory, the trio of Bailey, Jammer, and Rodgers-Cromartie should be enough at the cornerback position, but Jammer, like Bailey, is moving towards the end of his career, while Rodgers-Cromartie struggled during his time with the Eagles the past couple seasons. The Broncos do have Chris Harris, Tony Carter, and rookie Kayvon Webster to give them plenty of depth at cornerback, but to reach the Super Bowl they’ll need their veteran cornerbacks to help take them there, and right now they can’t know for sure whether or not they can rely on that happening.
At safety, there is even less certainty. The Broncos trust Moore to be their last line of defense, even after his mishap in the playoffs last year, but after such a disappointing play at a critical time there has to be concern about Moore’s confidence and instincts, especially if the Broncos end up in a similar situation this season. Also, unlike the cornerback position, the Broncos failed to sure up the safety position, as veteran Jim Leonhard left in free agency and the team was unable to sign free agent Charles Woodson. While Denver has the depth at cornerback to make personnel adjustments during the season if their veterans struggle, they don’t have that same luxury at safety, which means they’ll have to stick with Moore even if problems arise coming off last year’s critical error.
Denver may feel good about its secondary right now, which looks better on paper than it did a year ago because of the addition of Jammer and Rodgers-Cromartie, but with the way the secondary performed during their playoff loss to the Ravens to end their season, the Broncos have should feel some apprehension heading into the 2013 season about their secondary’s ability to bounce back, even with a strong veteran presence in their defensive backfield.