SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Outside linebacker Von Miller is on a pace that'd make him an all-time great. The No. 2 overall pick in 2011 is averaging 0.82 sacks a game, a rate that trumps NFL sack king and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Bruce Smith, and isn't that far behind Reggie White.
So how does he do it?
To get answers on the other player picked ahead of Buffalo in 2011, we check in with Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar, who held the same title with the Bills in 2007 and 2008. In tandem with veteran DeMarcus Ware — who's the one providing everyone in Denver perspective this playoff run — Miller helps anchor the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense.
On Von Miller's game: “He’s really a heck of a pass rusher. He has great get-off, speed, acceleration. He can really go. When he goes, they’re as good as they get.
“His best game was this past week. He really made a difference in the game. That’s what you always tell him — ‘Dude! You have to play like that every week dude.’ That’s what you’re talking about, right? You’re talking about a game-changer. And especially at the end of the game, it’s nut-cutting time. That’s when you have to be at your best. That’s what big-time players do — in big-time games, big-time situations you make the plays.”
On what Miller did differently: “You get on a roll, the protection that they’re using, the guys you’re playing against, all that stuff factors in. This year, most of the time he’s chipped. Well, dude, ‘I’ve got two guys on me.’ It’s a hell of a lot harder to rush when I’ve got I’m rushing on and a guy hitting me all the time.”
On how often he's chipped: “He gets chipped, obviously, a lot. Teams will set up their protections, especially on third down, most of the time that offensive tackle’s got help. So that’s what people are realizing — oh, what happened here, what happened here — dude, if your (expletive) is doubled all the time it’s a hell of a lot tougher to get sacks and pressures than it is when you do have a one on one.”
On the need for Miller, a No. 2 overall pick, to still beat those double-teams anyway: “Oh, there’s no doubt. And it’s always the same: it’s tough but you’ve got to get it done. It’s just like those receivers who get double-coverage all the time. Right? And you say, ‘God dang.’ You’ve got to beat it or you’ve got to throw it up and make a catch. Somebody’s got to end up doing it.”
On Newton/Miller/Dareus/Sherman/Watt setting the course for so many teams that 2011 draft: “Oh yeah. And you never know when that draft is. (Robert) Quinn was in that draft and Cameron Jordan’s a pretty good player down in New Orleans. I mean, that was a really good draft early in the draft when most of those early picks have turned out to be really good players. When you go back and look over drafts, you can go ‘Holy (expletive),’ you might only come up with 2-3 guys in the first 15 picks. That was just one of those years it was a really good draft.”
On how Miller set the course for Denver: “It’s always the same: you’ve got to be able to get after the passer. You’ve got to be able to beat double-teams and that’s what he’s been able to do for the most part. So it makes a huge difference. Just like Quinn. He’s a hell of a player in St. Louis. And obviously Watt and Dareus.”
On if you can rush Cam Newton or need to stay home, cognizant of the zone read: “It’s got to be a little bit of both. You don’t want to sit there and try to play in front of him all the time. You’ve got to rush and do different stuff to change things up on him a little bit. But you really do that most games really. It depends on the quarterback or the protection or whatever. You’re never doing the same thing all the time.”