While plenty of Denver Broncos players put together a quality body of work despite a losing record, there were others who didn't live up to expectations.
Perhaps the most notable is rush linebacker Bradley Chubb. Just one year after being named to his first Pro Bowl, he missed eight games from Week 3-11 because of foot surgery, then never produced at the level he did a year before.
Chubb's struggles in 2021 got him a dubious distinction, in which Football Outsiders named him to their 2021 All-Keep Choppin' Wood Team, which recognizes players who were among the worst at their positions, be it for on-field performance or off-field infractions.
Football Outsiders' writer Bryan Knowles had this to say about Chubb's 2021 season.
"We know that Bradley Chubb missed about half the year on injured reserve, so we should expect his numbers to have been down somewhat. But zero sacks and just one tackle for a loss is beyond the worst-case scenario Denver was expecting when they traded away Von Miller halfway through the year. Chubb himself admitted that this was his worst year as a pro; he was worn down physically by COVID and finger, knee, and ankle injuries, and mentally from trying to recover from all the aforementioned problems as well as the extra pressure that came from trying to carry the Broncos' pass rush, such as it was."
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Knowles also mentioned Chubb's offseason arrest for failure to appear on a driving citation.
The off-field situation aside, Chubb's performance in 2021 is concerning. It's easy to say that Von Miller's absence affected him, but let's not forget Chubb's Pro Bowl season in 2020 came when Miller missed the entire season because of injury.
Chubb showed he could be effective even without Miller in the lineup in 2020, as he registered 7.5 sacks, 19 quarterback hits, and nine tackles for a loss. Alongside Miller in his rookie season (2018), Chubb had 12 sacks, 21 QB hits, and 14 tackles for a loss.
There's no way to sugarcoat it: Chubb was a major disappointment in 2021, particularly when you look at the numbers he produced in other seasons. He will have much to prove in 2022.
However, it's not out of the question for Chubb to get back on track. After all, his Pro Bowl season came after he tore his ACL in 2019. He has shown before he can come back from injury and play at a high level, so there's no reason to doubt he could do it again.
What should serve as motivation is the fact that Chubb is entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Broncos. The team exercised his fifth-year option and Chubb will be due $13.9 million. That's not a small sum, but it does put Chubb further down the list of edge rushers, in terms of 2022 cash spent.
However, if Chubb wants to get a new contract, he'll need to perform at a high level, in line with the two years in which he played a full season. Here's hoping he does that. 
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Bob Morris has been covering the Denver Broncos and NFL for several years. His works have been featured on Scout.com, 247Sports.com, CBSSports.com and BleacherReport.com. 


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