Within the past month, we’ve been awaiting news from the NFL to see if Denver Broncos LB Von Miller would be suspended for abusing the league’s drug policy. At first, the suspension was expected to be four games, but today, we learned that the league will actually suspend the star linebacker for six games. Miller is a big part of this Broncos team, so how much will the team be affected overall?
If you say the loss of Miller won’t bother the Broncos at all, you haven’t seen the guy play. He won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, has gone to the Pro Bowl both of his first two seasons, racked up a ridiculous 18.5 sacks last season and is one of the most feared pass rushers in the league. Luckily for Denver, they stacked up this offseason.
Denver went out and picked up veteran linebacker Shaun Phillips. Phillips spent his whole career with the San Diego Chargers, and now will spend his 10th season replacing one of the best at his position in the league for what’s expected to be six games. They also have Wesley Woodyard and Nate Irving in the linebacking corps, which is great for Denver. These two linebackers are fairly underrated guys who are very good tacklers. With Miller out, Woodyard will be expected to be get a strong pass rush going on the opposite side of Phillips. Of course, Woodyard won’t be able to replace Miller’s production on his own, so a by-committee approach is certainly what the Broncos will be going for.
Even if the Broncos pass rush can’t live up to what it was with Miller on the field, they have a pretty good secondary to slow down the opposing team’s passing offense as long as it’s healthy. Denver has two great corners in Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who of course are both currently injured. If they can stay healthy throughout the season, Denver’s defense shouldn’t be in too much trouble.
You also have to look at Denver’s offense. If teams have a good enough offense, they really don’t even need a great defense because they can simply outscore other teams. The Broncos are one of those teams. Peyton Manning and his trio of star receivers alone could get the job done, but they also have a pretty good running game consisting of Ronnie Hillman and rookie Montee Ball.
I’m sure the Broncos will be just fine while Miller is away. Their team is full of talent across the board and as long as there aren’t too many injuries, there will be nothing to worry about.