It's Miller Time In Denver
By Daniel Calzone
The Denver Broncos may be undefeated, but that doesn’t mean their defense doesn’t sorely miss the services of Von Miller. In his first two NFL seasons, he compiled 30 sacks, which is fourth-highest total in the league over that span. When Miller is on the field, offensive coordinators take notice. On most downs, Miller is going to be attacking the passer and forcing blocking schemes to pick him up, usually with a double-team. The 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year is rearing to put that helmet back on and start getting after the quarterback.
The Broncos’ pass defense has struggled thus far, and Tony Romo only made this glaring flaw more apparent this past week when he threw for 506 yards against Denver. Despite their spotless record, the Broncos rank dead last in the league in pass defense. I think the entire NFL now realizes that if a team is going to beat the Broncos, it is going to have to take advantage of that porous pass defense, and outscore that talented offense. Miller’s arrival will go a long way in helping the Broncos remove themselves from the pass-defense basement.
Miller, who was suspended for six games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, hasn’t been allowed to practice, but he has been allowed to hit the gym. According to a few Broncos players, Miller appears more ripped than ever, looking more like a defensive end than a linebacker. He has always been working to get bigger, and wants to keep working hard so that he can atone for his off-the-field mistakes once he gets back. People will forget all about Miller’s missteps if he takes to the field and is the same quarterback-attacking menace that he was before this suspension.
The Broncos will most likely be 6-0 when Miller’s suspension is officially over. (I’m not one to assume, but I am guessing they will beat Jacksonville on Sunday). Denver will welcome Miller back with open arms, and if his return coincides with Champ Bailey’s, expect this pass defense to improve mightily. A good pass rush is one of the most important factors toward having an effective defense. Just look at all the money players such as Jason Babin and Charles Johnson have commanded in recent years. Teams know the value of getting to the quarterback, and are willing to open up their wallets in order to get it.
All teams have weaknesses, and Denver is no exception. Their pass defense has been atrocious, and the Broncos have relied on Peyton Manning and the offense to outscore opponents. Shootouts have been and will be the norm for Denver this season. When you have one of the best regular-season quarterbacks in NFL history, I guess it works. However, the Broncos need Von Miller to put pressure on the quarterback, and when they play guys such as Andrew Luck and Tom Brady later in the season, they will definitely need him.