Von Miller’s Most Recent Award Makes Franchise History

Getty Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller tied a franchise mark, September 30, 2020.

Any reports of a demise in Von Miller‘s game have been greatly exaggerated, as the Denver Broncos‘ future Hall of Fame outside linebacker earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors, September 30.

Miller is one of the main reasons why the Broncos (3-0) have gotten off to such a hot start, as he’s racked up four sacks (second most in the AFC, fourth most in the league) and has recorded at least one sack in all three of the Broncos’ games. He’s also accrued a league-leading six tackles for loss, to go with six quarterback hits, 12 quarterback hurries, and eight tackles (six solo).

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No Washed Sack King

Miller’s hot start now has him standing at 23rd on the NFL’s all-time sacks list. His performance against the New York Jets, a 26-0 Broncos win, helped him pass former defensive end Greg Townsend. Miller now has tallied 110 sacks in his career, just a half-sack ahead of Townsend, and three behind No. 22 on the list, former defensive end Sean Jones.

Should Miller get 13 more sacks in 2021, it’ll not only mean he just had an all-time great season, but it’ll put him in the top-20 of the all-time list, surpassing former defensive end Simeon Rice (122 sacks) — who also has ties to the Denver Broncos. If Miller gets six more sacks in 2021, it’ll be the eighth double-digit sack season of his career, and the first since 2018.

Since he’s entered the league in 2011, no player has notched more career sacks than Miller. Considering his class includes future legends in Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt and New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, along with several other serviceable pass rushers who were also drafted in the first round (Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Hayward, former defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, former defensive end Aldon Smith, Chicago Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn), Miller’s career achievements seem that much more impressive.

Making History

Miller has now won AFC Player of the Month honors four times in his NFL career, with the last time being in September of 2016. The four occasions have tied Miller with some hallowed Broncos legends. He’s now tied Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis for most conference players of the month in Broncos history.

The other times Miller took home the hardware were in November, 2012 (eight sacks in the month), October, 2014 (seven sacks), and September 2016 (four sacks).

Head coach Vic Fangio was as effusive as the crotchety coach could be when he touted Miller for his comeback season.

“I think he’s picked up where I thought he would have been last year,” Fangio said following the win over the Jets. “It [the injury] was very, very disappointing on lot of fronts — not just that he couldn’t play for us last year. But I really felt he was primed to have a hell of a season, last year. About the only lucky thing with his injury is that it was one that once it’s healed — it’s healed. … He didn’t have lingering effects from it. He’s focused and he knows that I see a more mature player, a guy that is really wanting to play football, and enjoying it.”

The injury that Fangio noted was an ankle malady prior to the 2020 campaign. The linebacker suffered a season-ending tendon injury during an early September practice and was placed on IR just hours after the Broncos lost its 2020 season opener.

Fangio again reiterated his admiration for Miller’s efforts, during the team’s September 30 media session.

“He’s well-deserving of the award, because he’s played really well,” Fangio said. “We’re going to need to continue to have him play really well. I’m really happy for him to see this success, after having the tough injury last year.”

The Vonster is Back

The Broncos’ defense has been lights out so far in 2021, and Miller has been the catalyst. The Broncos have yielded a league-low 8.7 points per game and have the second-best total defense (allowing just 221.7 yards per game).

What makes Miller’s success even more impressive is that he’s doing all this sans his bookend, Pro Bowl outside linebacker Bradley Chubb. The 2021 Pro Bowler missed Week 1, and only notched 19 defensive snaps in Week 2, before exiting the game with a knee injury. Chubb was placed on short-term IR ahead of Week 3 and is likely out at least another month.

That means Miller will have to maintain his excellence if the Broncos are to get through the October 2021 gauntlet that features the Baltimore Ravens in Denver, October 3, then at the Pittsburgh Steelers, October 10, home for the Las Vegas Raiders, October 17, and at the Cleveland Browns, October 21. The Browns game will be a Thursday night primetime affair — the only stand-alone game of the season for the Broncos.

Follow Tony Williams on Twitter: @TBone8

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