With Von Miller roaming around the defense, the Broncos have one of the most versatile and dominant players in the league. In fact, there may only be one other guy in the NFL that has a legitimate argument as the best all-around defender in the NFL.
Losing Von Miller hurts.
Now reports have surfaced via Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that the Broncos will be without Von Miller for “at least” six games. Not only does Denver have to replace one of the best pass rushers in team history with Elvis Dumervil going to the Baltimore Ravens, they now have to figure out how they are going to cope without Von.
What’s more is the fact that the Broncos are dealing with the injuries of Derek Wolfe and Champ Bailey, though initial reports seem to indicate that at least Derek Wolfe should be good to go by the time the regular season starts.
Still, imagining a Broncos defense without Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, and Champ Bailey is pretty scary, especially since the Broncos were not able to win in the playoffs last year with those guys all healthy.
Jack Del Rio has a reputation as one of the top defensive coordinators in the NFL. We saw how he was able to elevate the Broncos’ defense in 2012, and with even more talent at his disposal in 2013, they should be able to ‘get by’ without their star players, even if it’s for an extended period of time.
There’s no sugarcoating it though, losing Miller is going to be a huge blow for the Broncos. Not only for this season, but going forward. Once Miller serves his suspension–however long it may be–he will be subject to more extensive testing from the league. If he can’t stay away from bad habits off the field, Miller could face a season-long ban.
The Broncos are pretty deep on the defensive line, but the depth was certainly a lot more exciting when it was complementing one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, not trying to replace his production.
At this point, the only proven pass rusher the Broncos will have week one is Shaun Phillips, and we can only hope that Derek Wolfe is healthy and is able to get his hands on opposing QBs more often. Of course, the pass rush can be helped a lot if the Broncos are able to get out to early leads, which puts more of a burden on quarterback Peyton Manning.
Defensively, the Broncos will probably line up with Nate Irving taking Von’s OLB position and Stewart Bradley manning the ILB position. They will have to get creative in sending corners and safeties on blitzes, as well as moving guys like Wesley Woodyard around and getting Danny Trevathan more reps defensively.
This could also mean good things for Lerentee McCray, who has potential as a situational rusher.
So, in essence, the suspension for Miller means everyone’s job gets a lot harder, and the margin for error is much smaller. Who knows how long it will be into the regular season before we see #58 for the Broncos, but it’s certainly not realistic to think Miller has convinced the league they should shorten his suspension anymore. What was once a potentially manageable four games, maybe cut down to two games has been turned into a disastrous six game suspension, which could come down as soon as Monday.
The Broncos may have to keep an eye out for a pass rusher to get cut or waived as the pre-season progresses. They could also try and find someone who is out there right now, but the pickings are slim. If they choose to promote from within, that’s fine too, but Jack Del Rio is going to have to get creative. The Broncos don’t have anyone else with the explosiveness and edge rushing ability of Von Miller, and certainly we hope that it won’t cost them too much to start off the season.