Is Von Miller Playing Better Than He’s Ever Played


It’s July 2013 and Broncos Country is just learning the All-Pro linebacker, Von Miller has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That suspension would eventually be increased to six games.

Then there was an arrest because of unpaid parking tickets, missed court dates and so on.

When Miller did return after his suspension, he looked heavy and slow. He did not have the impact that he had shown through his first two seasons. To top it all off, his season ended with an ACL injury on a non-contact play versus the Houston Texans.

It was a lost season and there were legitimate questions about Miller’s future; was he a lost cause, could he ever return the dominant player and would he ever grow up? Those questions, at least for now, have been answered and there’s a bigger question that now must be asked.

Is Miller playing better than he ever has?

The knee jerk response to that question is to say no way and I think a lot of that sentiment comes from the sour taste in everyone’s mouth from last season, but the truth is that Miller is having his best season as a professional and it’s not close.

Miller is paid first and foremost to pressure the quarterback and he has nine sacks through nine games. That’s a little off of the pace when he had 18.5 sacks two seasons ago, but he has been extremely disruptive. Despite not registering a sack versus the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, the pressure be Miller led directly to two turnovers. The sacks will come and they will come in bunches if Miller keeps playing like he has, and that 18.5 number is still very much in play.

The knock against Miller has always been his ability to defend the run, but not anymore. The Broncos are the number one defense versus the run and a lot of that is because of Miller. He has four tackles for a loss and has done an excellent job at setting the edge, and forcing running backs to cut back inside.

Pro Football Focus grades every player in the league after every game and any grade of 2.0 of higher is good. 3.0 or higher is outstanding and anything above 5.0 is all-pro level. Miller has consistently graded out above 4.0 and this past week versus the Raiders was insane. He graded out at an 8.5, there are no words to explain how impressive that is.

Miller should be in the conversation for both defensive player and comeback player of the year. The Broncos defense is in the top five this season for a lot of reasons; the free agent additions of Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and TJ Ward, the return of other injured players and the emergence of rookie Bradley Roby.

However it is the return to form of Miller that has fans excited about the Broncos defense. He has the ability to single handily ruin offensive game plans and even when he doesn’t make the play, he is making a difference.

Players like Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson and benefiting from the fact that Miller is being double teamed allowing them to make plays. Miller’s return has also freed up his fellow linebackers to make plays in the running game. No player has been better than Brandon Marshall versus the run and a lot of that has to do with the fact the Miller is drawing so much attention. Marshall and the other linebackers are often running free because there are two guys on Miller.

The scary part for upcoming opponents is that Miller is only going to get stronger. Remember when he started the season, he was only eight months removed from knee surgery and that knee gets better every week.

The Broncos are known as an offensive team and nothing is going to change that as long as Peyton Manning is in Denver but it is the defense that will tell the story for the 2014 Broncos, and Miller is leading that side of the ball.

2013 may have been a lost season for Miller but he’s back, and he very well might be the best he’s ever been.