Defensive Player of the Year: OLB Von Miller and DE DeMarcus Ware
November 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) is congratulated by defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 41-17. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
I initially went back and forth between Miller and Harris here. The tiebreaker was that I value a great pass rush more than a great corner. Regardless, each of them is deserving.
Once I picked Miller, I realized I couldn’t leave out DeMarcus Ware. Von has come back from an ACL injury to thankfully look like his former self. But some of Von’s production this year is also due to what DeMarcus Ware has done on the other side of the ball.
After fighting injuries with the Cowboys last year and getting released, through nine games Ware has already eclipsed his sack total from last year (6) with eight. This includes his three-sack performance in the dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers. It’s been a privilege to watch him this year. Even at 32 he’s still one of the best pass rushers in the game.
As for Von Miller, as I said, he looks like the Von of old. PFF grades Miller as the 3rd best pass rusher in the league (23.9) in any scheme behind J.J. Watt and Cameron Wake. He is the league leader in quarterback hurries. He’s also looked much improved in the run game too, being able to contain his side of the field. Von and Ware have lived up to expectations so far at this point of the season.
Honorable Mention: CB Chris Harris Jr.
Broncos fans have known what Chris Harris has been about for a couple years. Now, he’s showing the whole league what he’s about, being the number one corner on a team that has Aqib Talib. Harris success shouldn’t be a surprise, and from here on out, it won’t be.
PFF grades him as the top corner back in all of pro football with 15.7. The next closest corner is Vontae Davis with 13.5. (Richard Sherman is 6th with 8.9, because I know some of you are dying to know).
Of the corners that have been thrown at a minimum of 50 times, Harris is 4th in the league in percentage of allowed receptions (51%). Of those same players, he’s tops in the league in yards allowed (193). The longest completion he’s allowed this year was 22 yards. He’s given up no touchdowns and has two interceptions on 51 targets. Quarterbacks have a QB rating of 44.0 when throwing at him. The guy is as much of a lockdown corner as they come. Chris Harris is the real deal.