Defensive Rookie of the Year last season, Defensive Player of the Year this season?
Von Miller is a force on defense. As the No. 2 overall pick in 2011, he was close to being the biggest rookie impact player last season. He was by far, the best defensive rookie and earned the hardware to prove it.
His stats, which were remarkable for a rookie, don’t do him justice for the type of performance he put out last year. He didn’t lead the league in sacks last season with his 11.5 sacks. He amassed a monstrous 64 total tackles, 50 of them solo. He also forced two fumbles, deflected four passes and stopped eight runs for losses, equaling 26 yards lost.
The Broncos defense was transformed into a ferocious stampede on defense that applied pressure from both sides of the field and put fear in the hearts of opposing quarterbacks. One of my favorite hits of the season was one that Miller was later fined for, when he cracked the Jets’ quarterback, Mark Sanchez right in the chest and laid him out flat on his back.
Miller posted some huge sack totals before having a setback towards the end of the season during the San Diego Chargers game in Week 12 that became a pivotal game and Miller’s huge play is likely the reason that the Broncos earned a playoff spot.
Miller made a huge play late in overtime that later led to a game-winning field goal by Matt Prater.
It was third down and six yards to go from Denver’s 31-yard line. The Chargers were going for a run to center the ball and pick up a couple more yards to set up a field goal. Instead, Miller charged through the line and dropped Mike Tolbert for a loss of four yards. The play turned a 48-yard field goal into a kick that was 53-yards away. The 53-yard kick was no good and the Broncos got the ball back with great field position.
Von Miller consistently created pressure on quarterbacks last season, but he isn’t just an edge rusher. He plays two positions and every down. He can play as a stand-up 4-3 linebacker on first or second down, when the Broncos aren’t expecting pass, and can line up as an edge rusher in a three-point stance, off the end’s outside shoulder in a two-point stance or even rush from the strong-side linebacker position.
He’s very versatile and the Broncos used him very successfully last season from all different positions to generate a ravaging rush. No matter where he’s lined up, he’s a threat to pound the quarterback.
Take away his pass-rushing capabilities and his eight stops for a loss combined with his huge numbers in solo tackles and Von Miller is atop the league in stopping the run, something the Broncos have been trying to address for years.
Miller has been an instant upgrade in run defense and he will only improve. He puts his head down and torpedoes through blocks on running plays blowing up plays and causing disruption behind the line of scrimmage.
Last season, Miller and some of the supporting cast made Dennis Allen look like a genius. He has since been added to be the Oakland Raiders next head coach. I believe, however, that without Allen around Von Miller will continue to shine and make the Raiders think that it was him that was the biggest change on defense last year, not their coordinator.
As Miller improves, the Orange Crush will improve. Miller may continue to fly under the radar with Peyton Manning in town, but opposing offenses will take notice and when it's time to hand out the yearly hardware, don't be surprised if Miller isn't winning defensive player of the year.
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