Denver Broncos: Von Miller is back in a big way this season

Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

He’s back. Denver Broncos pass rusher Von Miller is back and he’s proving it on a week-to-week basis early in the 2021 season.

Is that a bird? A plane? No, it’s Von Miller, flying through the backfield. He’s back. Von, the Vonster, our franchise cornerstone, is once again doing what he does best: terrorizing quarterbacks with a smile. After a 2019 season slowed late by a knee injury and missing all of last year with his ankle Von truly appears to have regained his MVP form. Three games into 2021, and he’s already notched four sacks, six QB hits, and six tackles for loss. Even without his “Robin” in Bradley Chubb, Von looks like Batman again and it’s great to see.

From a recovery perspective, I’m not surprised. His peroneal tendon tear last season was a gut punch right at the start of a brutal season, but there was a slim silver lining. This was not an injury that carried long-term effects, per Dr. David Chao, and as Vic Fangio himself had said “when it’s healed, it’s healed.” For a 32-year-old veteran, that’s huge. The tendon healed well, and it was even appearing possible that Von could return last year around November, but with the season already lost he was held out for all of 2020.

Now, he’s back up to speed. I mean that in the most literal sense.

RB chip? Whatever. Veteran right tackle in pass pro? Doesn’t matter. Von’s still a freak around the edge for the Denver Broncos. The fact that he’s maintaining that level of speed and bend at 32 tells me he’s taking incredible care of himself. Maybe he’s been talking to Bruce Smith, who notched sacks until he was 40.

Maybe he’s dipping into the TB12 playbook, and the way Tom Brady is still playing, I really hope he is. Regardless, Von looks incredible and his burst is just as good as ever, and we all know how dedicated he is to refining his craft as a sack artist with his annual Pass Rush Summits.

The speed is clearly there, but his power is better than it’s ever been as well. Bulked up a bit to 250, there was a play against the Giants where Von plowed over Denver native Nate Solder, who measures in at a whopping 6’8″, 325 pounds. This was just after completely blowing by the Giants’ other RT, Matt Peart, to the point where it looked like Peart didn’t even move at the snap.

Sure, he’ll get penalized here and there for guessing snap counts, but his intuition, burst, and power off the ball is what we’ve come to love him for. The fact that he looks so good already has me wondering just how good this pass rush will be when Bradley Chubb is back up to speed after his procedure, and hopefully, after the bye week, we’ll finally get to see them tear it up together. Until then, Malik Reed is doing great as… Commissioner Gordon to Von as Batman?

I don’t know DC comics that well, but the point is that Reed is perhaps the best 3rd edge rusher in the league, and proved with a sack yesterday that he can be that guy until Chubb is healthy again. Jonathon Cooper and Andre Mintze are promising understudies as well. No matter who’s lining up across from him, Von is making short work of Right Tackles, Guards, Tight Ends, Running Backs, or anyone offensive coordinators put in his way.

Denver Broncos detractors will gripe about the level of competition we’ve seen in 3 games so far, but Von has faced down Jawaan Taylor, Nate Solder and Morgan Moses as his primary blocker this year, all 3 solid linemen in the NFL. And even were the competition subpar, I’d say the same thing I’m saying about the Denver Broncos as a whole at this point.

Isn’t it better to be routing bad teams than considered among them? I’ve got high hopes for this season under Teddy Bridgewater and the George Paton era, and Von’s incredible performances have helped bury the competition.