BRONCOS

Is Broncos Country witnessing Von Miller’s last stand in Denver?

Oct 20, 2021, 6:32 AM
JACKSONVILLE , FL - SEPTEMBER 19: Von Miller (58) of the Denver Broncos stands with teammates befor...
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Von Miller’s legacy is secure.

Even if Miller never played another game in a Denver Broncos uniform, he would rightly be considered the best defensive player in team history — and that history includes Hall-of-Famers in Steve Atwater and Champ Bailey, and Ring-of-Famers in Karl Mecklenburg, Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Billy Thompson and Louis Wright. Miller’s impact over the course of his now-10th season as a Bronco will become the bar by which all other Broncos will be measured.

One day, Miller’s bust will reside in Canton, too. The Broncos’ all-time sack leader has already cemented a Hall-of-Fame career. The only question left to answer is: Will he finish it in a Broncos uniform?

An unrestricted free agent after the season, the 32-year-old Miller only returned for the 2021 campaign when he forced new general manager George Paton to blink first. The Broncos had designs on reducing Miller’s $22.2 million cap hit last spring, but Miller instead issued an ultimatum: Either pay him the money in the contract that was agreed upon or release him. Certainly, the Broncos considered the latter, especially since Miller had a down year (by his standards) in 2019, and missed all of the 2020 season with an injured ankle. The decision would have been defensible, if unpopular, but Paton didn’t make it, choosing to side with Miller and leave his contract untouched.

That’s proven to be the right choice, even though Miller, who once again leads the team with 4.5 sacks — more than twice as many as anyone else on the roster — has been suffering through the same malaise that has plagued the Broncos during their embarrassing, three-game losing streak.

He plans on ending that Thursda, in the Broncos’ must-win road game against the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s on me. I’ve played in all types of games, and I’ve performed well in all types of games. I have to play well in this game — I will play well in this game. I’m going to go off; it’s going to be a good game for me,” Miller said on Tuesday. “I don’t want to guarantee a win for my teammates; I don’t want to put the pressure on those guys. I want to put the pressure on me. I’m going to have a great game; I’m going to go out there and play well and get a couple of sacks. If I can do that, then we’ll win. If you look at this season, in the first three games, I had a couple sacks and we won those games. These last three games, I didn’t do as much. If I can play well, get sacks and find a way to disrupt the game, we’ll win. The pressure is on me to play well; I will play well. I don’t know who the tackle is that I’m going against, but I’m going to kill him. I’m going to kill him, and the other guy on the other side. I’m going to play extremely well; I’m going to make plays for my team. I’m going to set us up to win this game.”

Miller, ever the happy warrior, chuckled through much of his proclamation. He obviously meant some of that in jest, but definitely not all of it.

According to Pro Football Focus, Miller grades out as the Broncos’ best player — on defense, offense or special teams. Numero uno. He’s looked like it, too.

But at times, you wouldn’t ever suspect that the unassuming, bespectacled Texas native was still a walking, talking nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators. Miller isn’t the fire-breathing type. He’s the rah-rah type; the cheerleader, the hype man; roles in which he’s been perfectly comfortable while he’s been busy sacking quarterbacks 111 different times.

This week feels different. Miller knows that the Broncos’ chips are down and that his clock is ticking, so he chose to speak up.

“You just feel it and it’s genuine,” Miller explained. “This time, when Thursday night comes around, I want to put it on me — I wanted to put the pressure on me. If it’s all on me, then I can control that. I can control it, I can handle it, and I can make (stuff) happen like that.”

After Thursday’s game, it’s likely that one of the greatest-ever Broncos will be down to the final 10 games of his Denver career. Miller hasn’t given up on winning another Super Bowl, but under the current, hapless administration, that’s almost certainly not in the cards — and there’s little doubt that he knows it.

If, indeed, this week marks the beginning of Miller’s last stand as a Bronco, he won’t be going down without a fight… and a trademark grin. “It’s football.”

***

Shawn Drotar (@sdrotar) is the on-air host of “Sandy and Shawn;” weeknights from 9p-midnight on 104.3 The Fan.

Broncos

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 1: The Los Angeles Chargers offense lines up behind Scott Quessenberry #61 in...
104.3 The Fan

Elevator Pitch: Sunday vs. Chargers a “must-win” for Broncos?

For the Broncos to have any shot at a winning record, and possibly to sneak in to the postseason, they must beat the Chargers on Sunday
1 day ago
(Graphic by Bonneville Denver)...
Cecil Lammey

60 Seconds: “Smile, laugh, share, give, love” this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is more than football and food; it's about giving thanks to those people we have in our lives
1 day ago
(Graphic by Bonneville Denver)...
Nick Ferguson

The Extra Mile: Thankful for friends, family, listeners and Broncos Country

Nick Ferguson is thankful for many things this Thanksgiving Day; what are you thankful for Broncos Country?
1 day ago
INGLEWOOD, CO - DECEMBER 27: Melvin Gordon III (25) of the Denver Broncos jumps over Jahleel Addae ...
Cecil Lammey

60 Seconds: Broncos must run the ball in order to beat the Chargers

Yes, the wide receivers got paid this week, but the Broncos must run the ball well to have a shot at beating the Chargers on Sunday
2 days ago
CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 13: Kareem Jackson (22) and Justin Simmons (31) lead the defense against t...
John Clayton

The Broncos didn’t fare well in the first week of Pro Bowl voting

While other teams in the AFC West have players across the top 10 at various positions, the Broncos are barely represented in early returns
2 days ago
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 27: Denver Broncos cheerleaders wear masks as the perform in the stand...
Johnny Hart

Masks mandated for public spaces at Empower Field at Mile High

In compliance with the most recent Denver Public Health Order, Broncos fans and foes alike will be required to mask up starting Sunday
2 days ago
Is Broncos Country witnessing Von Miller’s last stand in Denver?