In his second NFL season, linebacker Von Miller has picked up right where he left off as a rookie when he earned the Associated Press’ Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
In 2011, Miller finished with 11.5 sacks, tying the Broncos rookie record. Through half the season in 2012, Miller already has nine quarterback takedowns, which ties for second in the NFL.
During the offseason, Miller focused on cutting down on mental errors that he saw on tape from his rookie campaign. That work has paid off as he has emerged as a complete linebacker that can apply pressure on the quarterback on one play, then drop back in coverage on the next.
“I want to be a linebacker, not a rush guy, not a pass specialist or a run specialist,” Miller said. “I want to be the linebacker for this Broncos organization and my teammates. I think if I just take it one day at a time, I can achieve that goal of being a true linebacker that can play all four downs if it goes four downs.”
Miller joins Texans defensive end J.J. Watt as the only players in the NFL to post nine sacks and double digit tackles for a loss through Week 9. Of Miller’s 33 tackles, 17 have come behind the scrimmage, which ties for tops in the league.
Between Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil, opposing offensive linemen have had their hands full trying to keep the Broncos out of the backfield. Miller and Dumervil have combined for 15 sacks, the most by any pass-rush duo in football this season.
Miller’s continued growth has been fueled by the coaching he’s received from Linebackers Coach Richard Smith and Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was an NFL linebacker himself.
“Coach Smith, he’s more of a technician,” Miller said. “Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. He stays on top of me on everything. Coach Del Rio, from a player’s point of view, he says, ‘You’ll be OK with those movements if you just get this done.’ You combine them both, we have a great defensive coaching staff here at the Denver Broncos.”
Though Miller has found success early, he knows there are still improvements to be made – and his position coach makes sure to remind him of that as well.
“I think it’s OK, but Coach Smith, my position coach, he’ll tell you, I have a long way to go,” Miller said. “I don’t think I’ve been taking strides or huge bounds on reaching that goal, but I think I have taken steps. And as long as I’ve got some positive progress, I think I’ll be alright at the end of the day. Just keep on working, taking it one day at a time.”
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