Stats & Info: Von Miller

Top things to know: Ravens at Broncos

September, 5, 2013

Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsJohn Harbaugh and the Ravens open their defense of the Super Bowl title in Denver.
The 94th NFL season kicks off tonight with the Denver Broncos hosting the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. We take a look at five key stats heading into the game.

1. The Ravens are seeking to become the ninth team to repeat as Super Bowl champions and first since the 2003-04 Patriots. However, the last seven defending Super Bowl champs have failed to win a single playoff game in the next season, going a combined 0-4 in the postseason.

2. Eight starters from Super Bowl XLVII are no longer on the Ravens roster, not including 2012 sacks leader Paul Kruger, who didn’t start in the Super Bowl.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the previous record for Super Bowl starters lost by a defending champ is five, shared by the 2008 Giants, 2007 Colts, 2001 Ravens, 1996 Cowboys and 1994 Cowboys.

3. How important is Week 1? Since the postseason expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 54 percent of teams to start 1-0 reached the postseason while 25 percent of teams starting 0-1 made the playoffs.

Of the 272 teams to reach the playoffs since 1990, 189 started the season with a win (68 percent).

4. Defending Super Bowl champs are 12-1 in season openers dating back to 2000, with the only loss coming from the 2012 Giants.

The Ravens have won a franchise-record five straight season openers. They have the second-longest active win streak in season openers behind the Patriots (9).

Because of a scheduling conflict with the Baltimore Orioles, the Ravens are the first defending Super Bowl champs to open the season on the road since the 2003 Buccaneers, who beat the Eagles 17-0 in Philadelphia.

5. Broncos linebacker Von Miller is suspended for the first six games of the season. Miller has 30 sacks in two NFL seasons, tied for the third most by any player through two seasons since sacks became an official stat in 1982.

Last season, the Broncos allowed 4.5 yards per play with Miller on the field and 5.1 yards per play with him off the field.

Miller's presence vital to Broncos pass rush

August, 20, 2013

Dustin Bradford/Getty ImagesSince sacks became official in '82, Von Miller is one of four players with 30 sacks in his first two seasons.
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has been suspended for the first six games of the 2013 NFL season.

The immediate impact of Miller’s absence will be felt on Denver’s ability to rush the quarterback. The two-time Pro Bowler has accounted for almost one-third of the Broncos’ sacks over the past two seasons (30 of 92).

And, since they became an official statistic in 1982, Miller is one of only four players with at least 30 sacks in his first two seasons.

Miller does more than just sack the quarterback. His 28 tackles for loss (which does not include sacks) ranks second in the NFL since the start of 2011, and his eight forced fumbles are tied for fourth.

It’s no surprise that the Broncos' defense last season was much more effective when Miller was on the field (as noted in the chart on the right).

Miller’s absence impacts the Broncos' pass rush even more, especially when you consider that the Broncos were forced to release three-time Pro Bowler Elvis Dumervil in March after his renegotiated contract wasn’t submitted to the league office in time.

Since being drafted by the Broncos in 2006, Dumervil is fourth in sacks per game at 0.70 (minimum 50 games).

And, over the past two seasons, the Broncos recorded a sack on 8 percent of opponents’ drop-backs when both Miller and Dumervil were on the field. That percent dropped to 6.9 with one of them on the field and 3.4 percent with neither on the field.

Manning, Welker have Broncos poised for Super Bowl run

July, 25, 2013
USA TODAY SportsWes Welker (left) will catch passes from Peyton Manning (right) this season after being acquired by the Broncos in the offseason.
There's plenty of hype and intrigue for the Denver Broncos entering the 2013 season. SportsCenter is at Broncos training camp on Thursday and will try to answer some of their most important offseason questions.

Is Peyton Manning the best QB in the NFL?
Coming off neck surgery, Peyton Manning led the NFL in Total QBR last season and posted his second-most passing yards and passing touchdowns in any season.

According to Total QBR, Manning’s 2012 season was the second best by a quarterback in the last five seasons. He’s also the highest-rated quarterback in the NFL during the last five seasons.

The Broncos appear to be in good position to compete for a Super Bowl title.

Manning, who turned 37 on March 24, will look to join Johnny Unitas and John Elway as the only starting quarterbacks 37 or older to win a Super Bowl.

What impact will Wes Welker have on Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker?
Last year, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker became the third pair of teammates in NFL history to each have 85 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in a season. And the Broncos added Wes Welker, who has reached five straight Pro Bowls, to the wide receiver mix this offseason.

Welker led the league in receptions, receiving yards and receiving first downs when lined up in the slot in 2012. Manning completed a league-high 71.7 percent of his passes to slot receivers last season.

Will the Broncos fix their running game?
The Broncos cut Willis McGahee, their leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, in June. Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno are expected to compete for the starting running back job.

Hillman was drafted in the third round in 2012. Ball was drafted in the second round in 2013. The Broncos are the only team to draft two running backs in the first three rounds of each of the last two drafts.

The Broncos led the NFL in rushing in 2011 but ranked 16th in 2012.

What would the Broncos lose if Von Miller is suspended?
Two-time Pro Bowler and 2011 Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller is reportedly facing a possible four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

Denver plays the Ravens, Giants, Raiders and Eagles in its first four games. Collectively, those opponents have better passing offenses and are better at protecting the quarterback than the Broncos’ final 12 opponents.

Since sacks became official in 1982, Miller is one of four players with 30 sacks in his first 2 NFL seasons.

Do the Broncos have the league's easiest schedule?
The Broncos will have a chance to avenge their playoff loss to the Ravens on Sept. 5 in Denver, the first game of the 2013 NFL regular season.

It will also be a reunion game for Ravens linebacker Elvis Dumervil, a Bronco from 2006-12.

Based on 2012 results, the Broncos will play the league’s easiest schedule in 2013. Of the seven teams that entered the season with the league's easiest schedule, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, only the 2006 Bears advanced to the Super Bowl (lost to Peyton Manning and the Colts).

Manning could be Broncos defensive MVP

August, 22, 2012
On the surface, the Denver Broncos defense in 2011 would appear to have been a below average group, allowing the ninth-most points per game (24.4) and forcing the fourth-fewest turnovers per game (1.13).

However, the problem with the defense may have stemmed from problems with the offense.

The Broncos offense, led by Tim Tebow for most of the season, punted after three plays on 31 percent of their drives. Only the 2-14 Colts had a worse three-and-out percentage (32 percent).

From 2001 to 2011, 19 teams went three-and-out at least 30 percent of their offensive drives, and none finished over .500 for the season. The 2011 Broncos were the third team to go .500 and the first to make the playoffs with such a rate.

This trend didn’t last the entire game for Denver though.

During the first three quarters, the Broncos went three-and-out nearly 37 percent of the time, forcing the defense to be on field over eight minutes per quarter on average.

In the fourth quarter, or “Tebow Time”, that rate dropped to 17 percent, with the defense on field for an average under seven minutes. Not surprisingly, the Broncos defense was at its best in the fourth with more rest.

The Broncos picked up four of their nine interceptions in the fourth quarter last season, and made the jump from the fourth-worst completion percentage allowed in the first three quarters to the eighth-best in the fourth.

The pass rush was the biggest benefactor from the extra rest last season. The fourth quarter sack rate for Denver matched the rate of the first quarter, when the defense would be at its freshest.

Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller combined for 9.0 sacks in the fourth last season, each picking up 4.5 sacks, tied for 10th-most in the league. The duo combined for 12.0 sacks in the first three quarters.

Peyton Manning
With Peyton Manning now taking the reins at quarterback, Denver’s offense should be able to give the defense more consistent rest.

From 2001 to 2010, the Colts went three-and-out just 17 percent of the time, the best rate in the NFL over that span, and finished in the top 10 in the league every season. Without Manning last season the Colts went three-and-out 32 percent of the time, finishing last in the NFL.

If Manning can extend drives for Denver, the defense could produce at a high level.

Broncos more than Tebow down stretch

December, 13, 2011
Behind the play of their young quarterback, the final seven minutes of regulation have been “Tebow Time” for the Denver Broncos.

Tim Tebow has helped lead the Broncos back from 4th-quarter deficits in each of their last four games. This season, he has thrown for more yards in the 4th quarter than the first three quarters combined, and his 96.3 Total QBR in the final seven minutes of the 4th quarter is the highest among NFL quarterbacks with at least 40 action plays.

But the Broncos success late in games hasn’t all been about Tebow. Below are nine other reasons why Denver has gone 7-1 over the last eight weeks.

All numbers below are from the final seven minutes of regulation since Week 7, the first game that Tebow started this season.

Bronco Defense
•  6 sacks (T-most in NFL) including 5 by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil (T-most among any teammates in NFL)

•  13.1 opponent Total QBR (2nd in NFL: Seahawks, 4.1)

•  0 rush TD and 0 20-yard rushes allowed

•  0 pass TD and 0 30-yard passes allowed

•  46.5 completion percentage allowed (6th in NFL) and 2 interceptions (T-6th in NFL)

Punter Britton Colquitt
•  2 punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line (T-5th in NFL) since Week 7 with no touchbacks

•  No punts blocked and no punt return TD allowed

•  41.3 net yards per punt (T-7th in NFL, min. 3 punts)

Kicker Matt Prater
•  Made 4 of 5 FG attempts (T-most in NFL) including both attempts from at least 45 yards away (most in NFL)