Von Miller will need to be much more effective than he was in 2019.
Perhaps the best defensive player in the history of the franchise, Von Miller had a quiet 2019 campaign. He had just eight sacks, the lowest number of his career since 2013 when injuries and a suspension limited him to just five sacks.
There is plenty of blame to go around after he failed to reach double digits in sack totals in 2019. Whether it be the fact that it was his first year in Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme or the fact that Bradley Chubb missing most of the season forced teams to place more focus on him, there is good reason for his low numbers.
But make no mistake, another eight-sack season likely won’t go over well.
Recently, Adam Schein of NFL.com listed Miller as one of nine players under the most pressure in 2020. His reasoning ties in with what I said here, that this could be Miller’s final season in Denver.
It seems unfathomable to imagine Miller finishing his career anywhere but Denver but when you consider that the dead money cap hit drops from $17.8 million in 2020 to $4.2 million in 2021. Those are numbers any smart team would look at if Miller has another down year.
Of course, Miller deserves a huge benefit of the doubt. After all, it’s fair to ask if the Broncos would have won Super Bowl 50 without No. 58 on the field. But the truth of the matter is that last season, whether it be because he wasn’t a good fit in Fangio’s scheme, the absence of Chubb or something else altogether, he just wasn’t that good.
Does that put Von under pressure in 2020? Absolutely.
Chubb will be back and fully healthy. He has had more time to understand what Fangio is looking for and Fangio and his staff may have a better grasp on how to use Miller, like not dropping him into pass coverage as often.
Miller is a pass-rush specialist and one of the best the league has seen over the last decade or so. But if he isn’t able to produce more than eight sacks, you have to question his effectiveness at 31 years old.
But if we know anything about Miller, we should expect him to handle the pressure he is under about as well as could be expected and we should expect him to rise to the occasion and prove that he is still an elite player.