The NY Jets are preparing for what is, for all intents and purposes, a must-win matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 5. Fortunately for the Jets, they'll be facing a depleted Broncos pass rush.
The Broncos surprisingly released veteran pass rusher Randy Gregory on Wednesday, less than two years after signing him to a five-year, $70 million contract in free agency.
The move was made in an effort to get younger up front and in part due to Gregory's lackluster performance since joining the team. A knee injury limited Gregory to just six games last season, and in four games in 2023, he had managed just one sack.
Still, Gregory was arguably Denver's most accomplished and talented pass rusher. In a weak front seven, Gregory was still an important part of the Broncos' defense. Now, the Jets will face a Broncos defensive unit without arguably their best pass rusher.
The NY Jets will face a lackluster Broncos defense in Week 5
Even with Gregory, the Broncos' defense has reached historical levels of ineptitude this season. They're just two weeks removed from allowing 70 points and over 700 yards in a game against the Miami Dolphins.
Through four weeks, the Broncos are on pace to finish with the worst defense in NFL history in terms of total DVOA. They've allowed more points and yards through the first four games of a season than any team in league history.
Part of this is a result of injuries that have affected the unit. The likes of Justin Simmons, Josey Jewell, Baron Browning, and Mike Purcell have all missed time due to injury. Fortunately for the Broncos, help might be on the way.
All four of those players could be in line to return against the Jets in Week 5. Browning is Denver's leading sacker amongst returning players from 2022 and should help replace the departed Gregory.
As for Simmons, he remains one of the best safeties in the NFL. His return should provide a major boost to a Broncos defense that ranks 31st against the pass and 32nd against the run.
The Broncos will lean on the likes of Browning, Nik Bonitto, and Jonathon Cooper to lead their pass rush, with Gregory now out of the picture.
While the Broncos will likely be getting reinforcements ahead of this Sunday's game, the Jets won't have to worry about one of their top pass rushers anymore.