Denver Broncos pass rushing linebacker Von Miller had himself a season in 2015, one that anointed him officially as a household name in the NFL. As crazy as it might sound, his start to the 2016 season might be even better.
“I said it earlier,” proclaimed defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. “I thought that he was a lot better at this point this year than he was last year. He’s proven so.”
With five sacks in three games, Miller has picked things up right where he left off, receiving the AFC Defensive Player of the Month award. Despite the accolades, the Broncos star credits most of it to his teammates.
“It feels great,” said Miller about receiving the award. “Like I said before, it just shows you the type of team we have, the type of organization that we have here. ‘No Fly Zone,’ the best secondary in the National Football League. You’ve got two linebackers get three sacks back-to-back. It just shows you the type of defense we have here, the type of secondary we have, the type of coaching that we have. It’s a true blessing.”
Though that was about as much as Miller was willing to concede, unwilling to declare that he’s already playing better than in his sensational 2015 campaign.
“It’s a constant process,” explained No. 58. “It’s just the first month of the season; we’ve still got a long way to go. That’s the mindset I have, that’s the mindset that’s been working for me. Just taking it one day at a time. I don’t really have too much to worry about but football, being here with my guys and trying to be the best Von Miller I can be for this organization. When you look at it with that mindset, it makes it pretty easy.”
While he's the one receiving the awards, putting up the big numbers and getting all the coverage, Miller is well aware of how important this Broncos defensive unit is to his success. Not just their play on the field but their mindset off of it.
“There’s no pressure like the pressure that we get out of each other in the locker room,” said Von. “We constantly push each other in the locker room. That type of mentality just wouldn’t pass with the type of guys we have in our locker room and the type of guys in our organization. I’m not that type of guy, but the locker room keeps everybody straight. We hold everybody to a higher standard and that’s where all this success is coming from.”
For as much as Miller was asked to talk about his personal achievements and success, he always went back to the team, their unity and focus in particular. It's not just working as a team but thinking as one.
“Just last week, we were in there talking to the receivers and the receivers were talking to the pass rushers," said Miller. " D.T.’s giving me pointers on this, I’m giving Emmanuel—we’re all talking ‘Maybe try this, try that.’ The criticism that we get out of each other it’s really helpful. It really helps us out. You’ve got [Aqib Talib] talking to the receivers every play, talking to the offensive linemen. It’s just a healthy vibe that we have in the locker room.”
With the summer of Von, a contentious contract negotiation and little time to prepare in the past, Miller has still found a way to be great. Not just that, he might be the best he’s ever been.