There are some players who are simply craftsmen, who, for as long as their body will allow, are able to prolong their career and play at a high level long past the point that most players at their positions have already retired, simply because they so fully know what they are doing, what they are seeing, and how to execute what it is that they need to do.
The Denver Broncos’ Von Miller is one such player, whom Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin called “a generational guy”, speaking on Tuesday in his pre-game press conference ahead of the Sunday meeting between the two teams.
“What can you say about Von Miller? He needs no endorsement from me”, he said. “One of the things that I think about when I think about him is we had an opportunity to coach him several years back at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, and his passion for football during the course of the week really struck me”.
Miller, now an 11-year veteran, has been an integral figure in pass-rush seminars and events that players have put together in recent years, in which pass rushers come together to discuss and work on their craft together, sharing tips. This is just a natural extension of who he is as a professional.
“He loves to talk it. He just does. He loves the game”, Tomlin said of Miller. “Practice settings in a Pro Bowl setting, he brought energy to it. The science of rushing the passer is something that he’s into. His football intellect is on the ceiling, and you couple that with his freakish talents and that’s why he’s in the midst of the type of career that he’s built. And he’s also having that type of 2021 season”.
At 32 years old, Miller already has 4.5 sacks this season after missing all of the 2020 season with a dislocated peroneal tendon near the ankle. He also leads the NFL with seven tackles for loss, and has seven quarterback hits.
“All that while people are working really hard schematically to minimize him”, Tomlin said, through that production. “We’re going to do some things to hopefully minimize his impact on the game, but yes, he sees those things week in and week out. He’s got flexibility in terms of what side of the line and so forth that he plays on, etc., making him a tough nut to crack. He provides a wave that the rest of the group rides”.
Miller is a future Hall of Famer, without question. An eight-time Pro Bowler and counting, a three-time first-team All-Pro, he has 110.5 career sacks with 26 forced fumbles, two interceptions, and two defensive touchdowns. He crossed over 500 career tackles this year, including 142 tackles for loss, with 223 quarterback hits. He had 14.5 sacks as recently as 2018.