“He’s not a pass-rusher. He is a football player. He stops the run, he plays hard every snap. He can wreck the game with his pass rush. And he’ll go down one day as one of the best defensive players to play.”
But did Rivers sell the Denver Broncos linebacker short?
Below, we make the argument for why Miller, who just finished his sixth season, might already be an all-time great, due to his all-around versatility and uniquely stacked resume.
While many sack masters stick to rushing from the blindside, the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder lines up anywhere his defensive coordinator asks, using a combination of speed, balance, and power to go around or through whichever unlucky soul is assigned to blocking him.
While he’s listed as an outside linebacker, he moves around throughout the game to keep the offense on its toes, as he knows he’s being accounted for on every play. The 2011 second overall pick has no fear taking on guards, centers, tackles, tight ends, and running backs against the pass or the run.
Miller was mentored by future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware, who taught the 28-year-old how to work on and off the field, and approach the game with a killer mentality.
Though he’s best when moving forward to stop the pass or run, he’s also often asked to drop back in coverage to use his athleticism against tight ends and running backs.
He’s become known as a big-game player, having possibly the best game of his career in Super Bowl 50, when he made 2015 MVP Cam Newton look like he had never taken a hit before. Entering that game, many had predicted the only way the Broncos could win was if Miller took over. He heard those people loud and clear.
While Rivers is correct that Miller is more than just a pass-rusher, his sack numbers per game have already surpassed that of some of history’s elite.
|Player||Total Sacks||Sacks Per Game|
Keep in mind, Miller’s 2013 season was very uncharacteristic, as he missed seven games due to suspension and injury, recording just five sacks, and didn’t look like his normal self.
His greatest accomplishment, though, is his aforementioned Super Bowl 50 victory.
Few defensive players have ever dictated the outcome of a Super Bowl quite like Miller did for the Broncos. Notching two-and-a-half sacks, six total tackles, and three more quarterback hits, it seemed he was flying past his blocker on every play, disrupting whatever the Panthers were trying to accomplish.
Miller’s Super Bowl MVP award should be one of his proudest achievements, but it hasn’t been the only time he’s received recognition.
Aside from his 2013 campaign, Miller has been named a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in every season, including his first, when he was also named Defensive Rookie of the Year. That award should mean something extra coming out of the 2011 draft, as it included 12 Pro Bowlers from the first 16 picks and another 22 from the rest of the class.
Miller has also set franchise records in single-season sacks (18.5), career playoff sacks (6.5), single playoff season sacks (5), and single playoff game sacks (2.5, accomplished twice).
The one accolade that has alluded Miller has been the Defensive Player of the Year award, though he lost by one vote to Khalil Mack last season.
But without that award, and with only a six-season sample size, has Miller done enough to be considered an all-time great?
Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.