Last season, the NFL witnessed the Denver Broncos and one of the greatest defenses in recent memory take down the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Between their phenomenal secondary and their outstanding linebackers, the Broncos defense in 2015 was absolutely phenomenal. Of all the solid defensive players, there was one that truly stood out as the best of the bunch; linebacker Von Miller.
Miller was the Super Bowl MVP last year, and is one of the best all-around linebackers in the entire NFL. While Miller remains a key piece of the Denver defense, several players have taken their talents elsewhere since their Super Bowl victory.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan and defensive end Malik Jackson highlight two of Denver’s biggest losses in the offseason, as both were key starters on the historic 2015 defense. However, even with these losses, the Denver defense has managed to be as solid as ever, all thanks to Miller. Without him, the Broncos would likely be far worse on the defensive side of the ball, and he is truly one of the more valuable players in the NFL.
Von Miller: An Early Season MVP Candidate
While it may only be two games into the 2016 NFL Season, the statistics that Miller has put up thus far are jaw-dropping. With four sacks and ten tackles in such a few number of games, Miller is on pace to break the single-season sack record by nearly ten sacks. While it is unlikely that Miller continues to sack opposing quarterbacks at such an outstanding rate, the start that Miller has had thus far has been nothing short of phenomenal. To compare Miller’s numbers to the Broncos team as a whole, Miller has half of the total number of sacks by Denver, and is fourth on the Broncos in tackles.
Impact on Entire Team
When looking at the rest of the Denver defense, the Broncos secondary certainly benefits from Miller’s success. Miller’s constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks forces them to make quick decisions, which can occasionally result in a poor one. The Broncos secondary is extremely opportunistic, as they consistently capitalize on errors from the opponent. Against two phenomenal quarterbacks in Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, the Broncos managed to pick off two passes, including a pick-six, and force one fumble, that being forced by none other than Miller. Miller’s pressure, in part, caused these miscues. Without Miller on the field, both Luck and Newton would likely have had far more time to make their reads and deliver smart, accurate passes. Instead, Miller’s abilities have helped the Broncos defensive unit grow better as a whole, and has created new opportunities for Denver that may not have existed without him.
On the offensive side of the ball, far less pressure is being put on quarterback Trevor Siemian to perform at a high level due to the success of the Broncos defense. Siemian is a starter for the first time in his career this season, and expectations are for him to simply be a game manager. Thanks to the phenomenal Broncos defense, Siemian does not have to put up phenomenal numbers and just has to avoid turning the ball over. With Denver’s defense being able to provide the offense with solid field position on most drives, there is little pressure on the offense to perform at a high level.
In the end, Miller’s contributions go far further than simply sacking quarterbacks and forcing fumbles. Miller makes the defense better as a whole, and as a result makes the offense easier to run for a young, unproven quarterback. When examining his impact on all facets of the game, there is no doubting the fact that Von Miller’s play so far has him deserving of MVP consideration.