Matthew Emmons - USA Today Sports

Denver Broncos' Duke Ihenacho Has His First Bad Game Of 2013

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My dad consistently expresses his desire for the Denver Broncos to have a “kick ass” safety. You know, the guys like Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, the guys who fly all over the field and have the vision to make plays that other guys don’t even see.

I really want Duke Ihenacho to be that safety. Great story, great athleticism, great name. He can be our awesome safety! I can feel it!

So far in 2013 he has shown flashes, mostly as a tackler. He is tied with Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan for the team lead in tackles at 28. Ihenacho has the “flying around the field” part down, as he has dazzled commentators week after week with tackles where he wasn’t even on the screen and came out of nowhere to make another tackle.

His success making tackles might have masked his struggles in pass coverage, however. According to ProFootballFocus, Ihenacho’s overall rating in pass coverage is the second worst on the team, ahead of only cornerback Tony Carter. Then you consider that the Broncos hadn’t really played a capable passing offense until week 5 against the Cowboys, and you wonder if his struggles in the team’s 51-48 win are a sign of larger issues.

According to the grades given out by ProFootballFocus, Ihenacho was almost the worst safety in the league for week five. Of 64 safeties who were graded, his -2.8 grade (with 0.0 being average) was better than only Major Wright of the Bears and Antrel Rolle of the pitiful New York Giants.

The Broncos can concede some mistakes in coverage to take advantage of Ihenacho’s raw athleticism and his ability as a tackler. That will especially be true when Champ Bailey returns and gives the team a second plus corner to go along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. With that being said, Ihenacho’s struggles against the Cowboys definitely threw some cold water on his campaign to become the next great “kick ass safety” for the Denver Broncos.

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