Good morning, Broncos Country!
It’s a good day.
Despite having to watch one of our most-hated rivals win last night, the chips fell in favor of the Broncos still being able to make a run at winning the AFC West - provided the Chiefs and Raiders both drop another game plus lose to the Broncos in their second matchups.
But all of that is a possibility, and it has me feeling a little giddy this Friday morning. So much so, I have a confession to share:
I have a huge crush – let’s go ahead and call it an Orange Crush – on Von Miller.
Don’t worry. It’s no stupid seventh-grade girl crush, and MHR did not suddenly turn into the sports equivalent of Cosmo Girl.
This is still a football blog, and my crush is all football, I assure you (well, I do have a secret wish to waltz with the man, but I’ll save that post for the offseason). Plus, I have a feeling there are few man-crushes out there for Miller.
Because seriously, the man is a beast on the field, and I love watching him go after the quarterback play after play after play. After hold, after chip...
And whether or not he is successful in his QB quest, Miller is the real deal, wreaking havoc everywhere on the field. When it’s all said and done, I predict No. 58 will hold similar hero status as No. 7 and No. 18 among Denver fans.
He is that much of a difference maker, that much of a leader for this team.
How good has Von Miller been this year? pic.twitter.com/bWfqsj8gkR— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 9, 2016
For the record, my crush is no sudden epiphany.
It began during the playoffs and was capped with his Super Bowl MVP presser when Miller credited both his record performance and the defense’s dominance to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
And it has been growing exponentially this season as the edge rusher continues menacing quarterbacks despite being held, chipped, double-teamed and occasionally horse-collared – enduring it all without complaint.
But my crush hit a season high yesterday during Miller’s presser after practice.
"Every year at the beginning of the year, coach has everybody stand up, ‘What’s your name and what is your position?’" Miller said. "Every single year I stand up and say, ‘I’m Von Miller and I play defense. My job is to make big plays for my team. However I can make them, stripping the ball, sacks or pass breakups. However I can get them, that is my responsibility."
Then our playmaker noted that he never sets a number goal for sacks anymore.
"In my sophomore year in college, I set a number. I told myself that I wanted to get 15 or 16 sacks, and I ended my sophomore season with three," Miller said. "I told myself after that that I’m not going to put a number on sacks. The following year I led the NCAA in sacks ."
/man after my own superstitious heart.
When asked if he would need to tone down his rushing this weekend to account for a mobile Marcus Mariota, Miller was undeterred.
"Me tempering down my pass rush? Never."
/I may have just batted my eyelashes once or twice.
But the ultimate crush moment came when Miller was asked whether the double-teaming was a sign of respect.
"I’m not looking for respect. I’m trying to make plays. I’m trying to ruin the game."
/get the smelling salts
Football crush aside, Miller is a special talent, and as Broncos fans, we must not take his defensive prowess for granted.
For obvious reasons, No. 58 is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year as he leads the NFL in sacks (13.5) and is tied for second in number of QB pressures (28). He also hit the 70 total sacks mark about as quick as any player in history.
Von Miller: 4th fastest player in NFL History to 70 sacks:— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) November 29, 2016
Reggie White 57 games
JJ Watt 75 games
Derrick Thomas 82 games
Von --> 83 games pic.twitter.com/CIE8gJtMhN
More importantly, no matter what his stats end up being after a game, the fact is no team can afford to leave him one-on-one or it will pay. And the fact is, half of the time, teams can’t even double-team him and be sure of containment.
This kind of scheming around one player is not insignificant.
"I’ve never seen a guy double-teamed as much as he was last game. It was phenomenal," Phillips said this week. "I was talking to their coaches after the game and they said that they weren’t going to let him be the difference. He was the difference. That tells you how good he is."
Fellow edge rusher DeMarcus Ware praised his protégé.
"He started the season off where he ended last season. He’s doing what he needs to, especially in high-pressure situations," Ware said, noting Miller’s intensity until the whistle is called. "I’ve seen on tape where the tight ends are chipping and the running backs are chipping, and now Miller’s pulling the tackle back and now he’s getting a strip-sack to win the game. That’s a want-to."
Sacks or not, Miller’s biggest "want-to" is to get the win. And even with such a high-caliber defense needing to bail out a young and struggling offense, Miller mostly just pays attention to what he considers his only job – playing great defense.
"Whatever [the offense] does over there is what they’re going to do. On our side of the ball, we’re stacked with great leadership from the cornerbacks to the linebackers to the defensive linemen to the outside linebackers," he said. "We need to go out there and play great defense."
That will certainly be true Sunday when the Broncos face the Titans, a 6-6 team fighting to take the lead in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC South. Beside second-year quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Broncos will have to account for running back Demarco Murray, currently second in the NFL with 1,043 yards.
"You've got one of the best offensive line groups and you've got one of the best running backs," Miller said. "When you put them together, you get the Tennessee Titans. …They have all of the weapons to be great, but we have to make sure that they don’t get it all together and put it all together on Sunday."
In other words, the Broncos need to crush their souls.
Nothing my football crush can’t handle.
Horse Tracks - docllv's picks of the day
John Elway Can’t Be Stopped | GQ
With a brand-new Super Bowl ring to add to the two he won as quarterback for the Broncos, John Elway has proved that there are indeed second acts in American football. The only unanswered question: How long will this drive go?
The Jeff Fisher Rams Are An Offensive Tragedy | FiveThirtyEight
The team was featured on HBO’s "Hard Knocks," where head coach Jeff Fisher renounced the idea of "7-9 bullshit." Now? The 4-8 Rams would be lucky to finish with that record.
John Glenn, American Hero of the Space Age, Dies at 95 - The New York Times
It's not football, but Glenn was a symbol of the space age as the first American to orbit Earth, then became a national political figure representing Ohio in the Senate.
John Glenn was a total badass. These facts prove it.
John Glenn's death has sparked remembrances of the man whose varied life as an astronaut and U.S. senator made him an American icon.
Horse Tracks - Broncos/Titans
Trevor Siemian limited in practice; Broncos add DL to practice squad – The Denver Post
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was limited in practice Thursday and split repetitions with rookie Paxton Lynch as they prepare to play at Tennessee on Sunday.
Broncos will see an improved Marcus Mariota at quarterback for Titans - NFL Nation- ESPN
Denver's struggling run game will have to try to match a Titans offense led by an improved Marcus Mariota.
Desperate for defensive line depth, Broncos sign Travis Raciti to practice squad | Broncos Wire
The Denver Broncos signed defensive lineman Travis Raciti to their practice squad Thursday, adding much needed depth to the defensive line.
Five Broncos things you should know: Von Miller, defending the Titans, and more
Miller talks about double-teams, and Emmanuel Sanders discusses Paxton Lynch's start last Sunday.
Broncos' Trevor Siemian continues to make progress toward return
Broncos QB Trevor Siemian took about half the snaps with the starting offense in Thursday's practice.
Wade Phillips: Even against double-, triple-teams Von Miller 'amazing'
No matter what the opposition has thrown at the Broncos' Von Miller, he has been his disruptive self in one of the best seasons of his career.
AFC rooting guide: AFC West title or No. 5 seed? | Broncos Wire
Now that we know the outcome, here are the playoff implications.
Broncos mascot Thunder named National Western Stock Show parade Grand Marshal – The Denver Post
Thunder, the Broncos’ team mascot, a gray Arabian gelding, will head the traditional parade of Longhorn cattle, horses and western wagons through Downtown Denver on Jan. 5 to kick off the 16-day stock show.
Chris Harris Jr. follows in Champ Bailey's footsteps at the Denver Rescue Mission
The cornerback joined several other Broncos Monday night at the Mission's 17th annual holiday party.
Jurrell Casey misses practice for Titans - Music City Miracles
It’s still early and Casey is still expected to play, but this is not great news for the Titans.
Super washout? Broncos could join Panthers at home in January
If both the Panthers and Broncos fall short, it’d be only the fifth time that both of the previous year’s Super Bowl teams missed out of the playoffs the next season.
Rookie Diaries: Where it all began
Will Parks and Justin Simmons reflect on their hometowns and their high school football careers, which kick-started their journeys to the NFL.
Horse Tracks - NFL news
Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson ruptures Achilles tendon - NFL.com
The Chiefs have lost one of their leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Derrick Johnson ruptured his Achilles tendon in Thursday's win, Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after Thursday's win.
What we learned: Chiefs move to top in AFC West - NFL.com
The Chiefs moved into first place in the AFC West with a 21-13 win over the Raiders Thursday night. Both teams are 10-3, but Kansas City holds the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series.
Next Gen Stats: Derek Carr comes up short on 'TNF' - NFL.com
Derek Carr didn't have his best night in Thursday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Next Gen Stats, in fact, say it was one of the worst performances of any NFL quarterback this season.
NFL playoff picture: Who's in, who's out and what's on the line in Week 14 - CBSSports.com
Week 14 contains several games that affect the NFL playoff standings
Cowboys fan lays it on the line with Super Bowl 51 tat - NFL.com
What is it with fans and stupid tats?
Joe Flacco once slept in room with Tom Brady poster - NFL.com
It's that time of the week when actual news stories are waning in the NFL so sports outlets are writing about dumb sh*t. Like this story when Flacco lived in his parents' suburban New Jersey home for a bit after his first seasons in the NFL, sharing a bedroom with his younger brother which had pictures of Tom Brady all over it.
NFC playoff picture: Can 'Hawks, Falcons stop Dallas? - NFL.com
Do Russell Wilson's Seahawks match up perfectly with the Cowboys? Might Matt Ryan's Falcons overwhelm Dallas? Gregg Rosenthal ranks NFC contenders' ability to stop America's Team.
Jamaal Charles targeting Chiefs return by playoffs - NFL.com
Jamaal Charles is targeting the first round of the playoffs for his return from knee surgery. Is he the missing playmaker the Chiefs offense needs for a Super Bowl run? (docllv is laughing at this SB comment).
Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott leads Pro Bowl voting - NFL.com
Zeke is good and deserves a Pro Bowl bid. But for the love of everything Orange & Blue, more Broncos defenders should be among top vote-getters, so you all need to fix this!