Von Miller is.
“Honestly, I feel like we’ve taken steps not only as a team, but as an organization,” Miller said on Thursday. “Last year, whatever the record was or whatever team we had, we are way better than what we were last year.”
He’s right. Even if the Broncos had finished with the same 5-11 record in 2018 there would be no denying they as a team and an organization took steps in the right direction. In 2017, they were getting rolled and blown out by playoff teams and this year they have been fighting every team tooth and nail.
Of their eight losses, the Broncos have lost six of those games by less than a score. Last season, only three of the Broncos 11 losses were by less than a score and one of those was a completely meaningless Week 17 game where Paxton Lynch got the start.
Miller also sees potential for more positive steps in 2019.
“Just growing, I guess,” Miller added. “I feel like next year we’ll be way better than where we were this year. We’ve got a lot of great rookies that came in and did a lot of incredible stuff, and those guys are going to be second-year players next year. They’re going to be vets next year and I’m excited and anxious to play with those guys next year. We’ll be a way better team next year. You can already feel it from the guys that we have this year.”
This positive attitude doesn’t mean Miller has given up on 2018 either. He sees an opportunity to finish 4-2 within the AFC West and that is something he wants badly for his football team.
“No, we’ve still this season to play,” Miller said. “We’ve still got two big games. [Bradley] Chubb is only three sacks away from breaking the rookie sack record and I’m going to do everything I can in my ability to make sure that happens for him. I’m sure that other guys feel the same about me. We feel the same about everybody out there. We’ve still got a lot to play for. It’s prime-time football games and going against a Chargers team with an opportunity to end the year with a 4-2 divisional record. There’s a lot out there. The playoffs are everything and winning the Super Bowl is everything, but where we are right now, there’s still a lot of stuff for us to play for.”
Miller had a lot to say about Chubb and the chemistry the two have built after just 14 games. The two are growing into the most dynamic pass rushing duo in the NFL and they are just getting started.
“I just say his overall demeanor,” Miller said of Chubb. “We all already know what type of football player he is and what type of leader he is, but I love playing with cool and collected guys that get on the football field and can hold their own. I just love playing with guys like that, and Bradley Chubb is definitely that. He has the mentality about it that he’s better than the other guy that he’s going against and I just love that about him. It’s never too big or too small for him. Whenever you’ve got guys like that around, it’s definitely refreshing.”
As much as the Broncos need a long-term answer at quarterback, few of us fans will regret John Elway’s decision to select Chubb fifth-overall this year. He has worked out exactly as everyone has hoped for and has a legitimate chance of breaking Jevon Kearse’s 18 year old rookie sack record.
Chubb was asked if getting that sack record was important to him and while you could tell it was he is approaching it with the right kind of mentality.
“Since I’m this close, it seems like it’s a goal that is attainable,” Chubb said. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game, and if it happens, it happens. But if it doesn’t, it’s cool. At the end of the day, I’m going to try and get it, but I’m not going to force it. I’m going to play pass on every play and stuff like that. It’ll be a great achievement though. Great for me, great for the team, great for everybody. So, it’s something that’s definitely in my sights, but it’s not something I’m going to try and go out of my way to get.”
When asked if he could help Chubb get that record, Miller was his typical self. He cracked a joke and followed it up with serious intent.
“I can get close to the sack and he slips out of my hands (laughs)—but no, just keep being the same player I am,” Miller said. “I try to get attention over here. [Derek] Wolfe and me, we garner a lot of attention over there and I want to play as best as I can to keep that attention over by me to get Chubb one-on-one.”
That’s exactly how Chubb has been helped all year long. Miller and Derek Wolfe working together to create havoc is a natural way to give Chubb some one-on-one looks where all he has to do is make a play.
It’s easier said than done as Miller was double and triple teamed all last season and the other side was relatively quiet all season long. 2018 has been different, however, with Miller and Chubb combining for 26.5 sacks through 14 games.
And they’re just getting started…