Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph met with the media on Tuesday to talk about the roster and the upcoming season. One issue they have to address is how to get Von Miller more one-on-one’s in games.
In 2017, Miller was constantly double teamed and chipped all game long as the defensive line was unable to generate any kind of pressure elsewhere.
“That’s fair because obviously Von—if you’ve got one rusher, the protections and the chips are going to go one way,” Joseph said about Miller being marginalized without a reliable pass rush opposite of Von. “But it’s not just about having a guy opposite, it’s having a guy in the middle. Obviously when the Broncos were really, really good at rushing the passer it was Von and D-Ware and Malik and Wolfe in the middle.
“That’s tough on offenses. I agree with you. Having other rushers that they have to account for definitely helps your best pass rusher. If you have one receiver, that’s tough because they just roll to that one guy all game. So you have to have two. Von will get better and he’ll get more 1-on-1’s when we have a better guy opposite him and we have more inside push. I wouldn’t say he’s a waste but I would say it’s tough for Von to dominate games 1-on-1 when he’s doubled and being chipped the entire game.”
Finding some pressure up the middle might be difficult, but they drafted Shane Ray in the first round of the 2015 draft to have a pass rusher once DeMarcus Ware retired. So far, he hasn’t produced like we hoped.
He was injured last season and finished with a paltry 50.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade a year after posting a healthier 76.7 overall grade in 2016. Joseph hopes to see him open things up for Miller in 2018.
“Shane was injured,” Joseph said. “He came back and played with that hand but it was tough. It was sore, he couldn’t bend it, he had no flex it it. We’ll get Shane Ray back. I thought Shane was coming on. He’s excited about being opposite of Von and helping rush the passer. Even Shaq, as you watched the cutups from the season, I thought Shaq played well. He played very solid. But to have Shane back is going to help Von get more 1-on-1s.”
Shaquil Barrett has outplayed Ray in every season he has been in the league, posting PFF grades of 77.4 in his rookie season, 80.5 in 2016, and 82.1 in 2017. He is getting better each and every season.
His biggest improvement last season came in rushing the passer, so perhaps the coaching staff is overvaluing Ray based on draft position here and undervaluing Barrett who has only gotten better with each season.
Either way, they need to generate a consistent pass rush opposite of Miller next season and also find some interior rush. That is where the defense truly suffered last season. Despite finishing second in three and outs, second in yards per drive, and fourth in overall drive success rate, they gave the 22nd most points and were 22nd in sacks on the season. The pass rush is what saves you in the red zone and it just wasn’t there for the Broncos in 2017.
Do you think Shane Ray is good enough to get Von Miller more 1-on-1’s?
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