Broncos’ Bash Brothers Alex Singleton, Josey Jewell form tight-knit bond
It was a friendship that started on some high school vibes. During Alex Singleton’s first day at the Broncos facility in 2022, the inside linebacker searched for an open seat inside the defensive meeting room, and he happened to stumble across a chair near veteran inside linebacker Josey Jewell.
From there, Singleton and Jewell began talking football… and other things… and even more things.
Soon enough, they were showing up to a road game against the Tennessee Titans in matching denim Canadian tuxedos, golfing, sporting similar facial hair and eating the same meals. Now, they live four minutes apart on the edge of Aurora.
“Those two are inseparable,” said defensive end Matt Henningsen.
Inside linebacker coach Greg Manusky said Singleton and Jewell are like “Frick and Frack.” Some might call them Starsky and Hutch or even Maverick and Goose. Ask Singleton, and he would say they’re “The Bash Brothers” from “The Mighty Ducks.”
Singleton and Jewell’s bond off the field has created a unique chemistry that allows them to work seamlessly during games. In Manusky’s words, they can read each other’s minds.
“(We’re) in sync,” Singleton told The Denver Post. “Just knowing how he plays the game, and he knows how I play. We are able to overlap and help each other. We can take over our zones and areas without wondering where the other guy is.”
Singleton and Jewell became Denver’s starting inside linebacker duo by chance. When Singleton, a journeyman who spent time in the Canadian Football League, signed with Denver after three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, he was meant to provide depth and special teams support.
Jewell, 28, missed four of the first seven games of the 2022 campaign due to injuries, throwing Singleton into a staring role alongside Jonas Griffith. Jewell returned, but Griffith suffered a season-ending foot injury at practice in November and is now recovering from a torn ACL. From that moment on, Jewell and Singleton grew even closer as they began starting games together.
They would occasionally visit each other’s houses and eat dinner with the other inside linebackers. A game of credit card roulette would sometimes decide who paid the bill. Jewell told The Post that they are still waiting for the right time to take inside linebacker Drew Sanders on his rookie dinner.
“Whoever I’m starting with, I want to get to know them in almost every (aspect),” Jewell, the sixth-year veteran, said. “That’s why we hang out. We understand each other well, which (is) very good on Sundays.”
One of Jewell and Singleton’s many nicknames, “The Bash Brothers,” came about when they wore Mighty Ducks sweaters to a home game last season, paying homage to characters Fulton Reed and Dean Portman from the 1990s film series. Jewell said they might wear the sweaters again this season.
The name is fitting, especially after last season when Jewell recorded a career-best 128 tackles while Singleton had 163, the most by a Denver defender since 2007.
Singleton and Jewell’s friendship has grown to where it’s hard to see one without the other. They hang around the facility together and are side-by-side every time they walk out for practice. Even during team meals, Jewell and Singleton get the same breakfast: eggs, avocado and a side of meat. For lunch, they eat rice, bison or hamburger.
“It’s weird because today they were walking across the field like they were at the beach or something with their helmets off,” Manusky said.
While both players have similar interests, their differences are noticeable. Jewell was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after he was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Iowa. Singleton, an undrafted free agent in 2015, had short stints with the Seahawks, Patriots and Vikings before landing in the CFL for three seasons. He returned to the NFL in 2019 as a member of the Eagles. In 2021, Singleton recorded a team-best 137 tackles in 16 games (eight starts).
In Denver, Singleton is known for his funny, upbeat personality. Jewell has a dry sense of humor. They never tire of playing off each other.
“He’s very Iowa,” Singleton, a Southern California native, laughed. “I’m smiling all the time. He’s a lot more strict. It might be a parent thing.”
“They are like Yin and Yang,” said Manusky, who described Singleton as a slippery linebacker who gets through blocks and slithers through gaps, and Jewell as more of a traditional downhill linebacker.
Singleton likes to use the word “thumper” when describing Jewell’s play style.
“When (Jewell) goes in and knocks the fullback, I know I can float over the top and make a play,” Singleton said. “And if I swim inside, he knows he can run through and be that physical presence we need.”
Both players are also amid different career arcs. Singleton, 29, signed a three-year, $18 million contract with $9 million guaranteed, in March — a fitting reward for a stellar 2022. “Alex (has) fresh money now,” Jewell said.
Jewell, on the other hand, is in the final year of his contract, with Sanders a potential replacement after 2023. Jewell tries not to worry about his contract situation. He wants to focus on giving it his all this season.
It’s uncertain what the future holds for Denver’s “Bash Brothers.” For now, they are at the center of a Broncos defense trying to uphold the high standards set by last year’s unit.
“If you got those guys standing behind you, those double teams will not be standing around very long,” Henningsen said. “They fly around the field and make plays.”
Manusky, who is in his first season in Denver after being the inside linebackers coach for Minnesota last season, said Singleton and Jewell’s constant communication on the field is essential. When dealing with jet sweeps and different alignments, Manusky said it’s important that both players are synchronized and constantly talking.
If a play doesn’t go as planned, Jewell said he and Singleton know each other well enough that they are unfazed by any breakdowns.
Both players were in sync on the first play in Week 1’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. When quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo handed the ball to Josh Jacobs, Jewell pushed off fullback Jakob Johnson while Singleton slipped through the B gap before both came together to stop the star running back for a 1-yard gain.
Jacobs, long a thorn in the Broncos’ side, finished with just 48 yards on 19 carries — a small victory in an otherwise disappointing debut to the Sean Payton era.
“I’ve played with quite a few different linebackers in my six years (in Denver), and (Singleton) has been pretty good. We are on the same page most of the time,” Jewell said. “That’s been the fun part.”
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