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Miller agrees he needs to make more plays, not play more

October 4, 2018
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FILE - in this Oct. 1, 2018, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) scrambles as Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) pursues during the first half of an NFL football game in Denver. The Chiefs face the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the league's best defense, this week, (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Von Miller concurs with his coaches that he needs to make more plays, not that he needs to play more.

The Broncos (2-2) haven’t had a takeaway since the season opener, and the fulcrum of Denver’s defense said the solution is simple: “I’ve got to get some sacks.”

Miller said if he can get to the quarterback like he did in the opener, when he dumped Russell Wilson three times, he can either force a fumble or a bad throw.

“I’ve got to play better. I’ve got to do better,” Miller said. ”... We’ve got some big-time games coming up and I’ve got to be big in those.”

Miller, who leads the Broncos into the Meadowlands to face the Jets (1-3) on Sunday, has seen his playing time dip by about 10 percent this season.

He’s missed more than a quarter of Denver’s defensive snaps as his coaches aim to rotate Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb, the fifth overall pick in the 2018 draft, with Shaq Barrett and former first-round pick Shane Ray.

“If you want me to, I can play the whole game,” cracked Miller, who has only done that twice in his eight-year career, against Cincinnati last season and at New Orleans the year before.

“I mean, it’s just different this year . It’s not me and DeMarcus (Ware) and the no-game guys behind us anymore,” Miller said. “It’s not like that. We’ve got big-time players between me, Chubb, Shaq and Shane.

“It’s just tough. You have to find ways to get Shaq and Shane in there. I have to find ways to get on the field during crunch time and in the clutch, which I am in there, usually.”

Miller said this formula will keep all four pass rushers fresh and fit for the long haul.

“We just have a special situation here. We’ve got four great pass rushers and it would be a total injustice to have Shaq and Shane on the bench,” Miller said.

Miller has played 74.2 percent of the snaps this season. That’s a significant drop from the 84.2 percent clip he’s played over his previous six seasons (not counting the games he missed in 2013), and at that rate, would work out to the lowest percentage of his career.

It wouldn’t be too far from the 76.2 percent of snaps Miller played in 2015 when he led the Broncos to a Super Bowl win, however. That year, he was at his best in the playoffs, pulverizing Tom Brady in the AFC championship and Cam Newton in the Super Bowl.

Miller’s highest percentage of plays came in 2013 after he returned from a six-game suspension to start the season and logged 92.6 percent of the snaps before a knee injury sidelined him and forced him to miss that year’s Super Bowl.

Miller’s heavy workload and weight gain that year may have contributed to his injury, and both his physique and playing time have slimmed down since.

He’s averaged 880 snaps a year since his knee injury in 2013 after logging a career-high 962 snaps the year before he got hurt. He’s on pace for 808 snaps this season.

Statistically speaking, Miller has been quiet since racking up four sacks in the first two weeks of the season.

“It’s a tough league and the sacks, they definitely come in bunches,” Miller said. “I mean, I started the season off with three sacks and I’m like, ’Man, I’m going to get 45 sacks this season. It’s going to be easy. And next game, I get two sacks and get one taken away and I’m like, ’Man, that would have been five sacks in two games.”

He’s been held without a sack the last two weeks, both losses, including a 27-23 heartbreaker against Kansas City on Monday night in which Miller had just one tackle and couldn’t bring down Patrick Mahomes, who switched the football to his left hand , then shot-putted it to Tyreek Hill with Miller dragging him down for a key first down on the Chiefs’ game-winning drive .

This week, Broncos coach Vance Joseph called out his coaching staff and his star players — although not by name — to do better after Denver cratered in crunch time against Kansas City.

“There weren’t enough sacks on the quarterback,” Joseph said. “We made maybe two plays on the ball the entire night. We need more. We need more from our main guys on both sides of the ball.”

When those comments were relayed to him, Miller showed he’s not overly stressed about his sack slowdown.

“I mean, in my heart I feel like, you know, my mom always told me since I was a little boy that I was her star,” Miller said. “And I just try to go out there and be the best player I possibly can be.”

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