ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Von Miller always says he wants “to be brutally honest.”
And as the Denver Broncos begin their third consecutive offseason not in the playoffs, the All-Pro linebacker says he knows his place in that.
“… I really hate the feeling like I could have done more,” Miller said. “But that’s just the truth. My job is to get sacks, make game-changing plays, big-time plays, and maybe if I made more of those we would have been talking about the playoffs and we wouldn’t be talking about new coaches, new coordinators, new schemes or whatever. So, yeah, I feel like I could have done more, because I could have done more.”
Miller closed out his eighth NFL season with 14.5 sacks, the second-highest single-season total of his career. Rookie Bradley Chubb, with his 12 sacks, was just the kind of player Miller needed to pair with in the team’s defense. There were times when Miller and Chubb looked, and played, like the league’s best tandem of edge rushers.
But Miller, whose Super Bowl 50 MVP performance will always be how he is judged, knows the Broncos haven’t been to the playoffs since that title game to close out the 2015 season.
On Wednesday, the Broncos hired Vic Fangio to be their new head coach. It’s the fourth head coach Miller has had in his career. And he knows the locker room will likely look far different this year than last because, well, that’s the nature of the business even when teams win.
And these Broncos just posted their first back-to-back seasons with at least 10 losses since 1966-67.
“Everybody knows what kind of organization this is and the success,” Miller said. “No playoffs, that doesn’t ride. And I want to do my part to fix it.”
Miller, who signed a $114.5 million deal just before the team’s 2016 training camp opened -- a deal that, at the time, made him the highest paid non-quarterback in league history -- is the Broncos’ marquee player. And that status, and the team’s 5-11 and 6-10 seasons of the past two years, have already clashed in a brief social media swirl since season’s end.
At the news conference to formally announce the firing of coach Vance Joseph, Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway was asked about Miller’s future with the team and whether he could be traded.
“I think we have to look at all the possibilities and get an evaluation of that,” Elway said. “One thing that has to happen is we have to play better. … We’re trying to evaluate what went on and then find solutions. One of the solutions is that we’re going to need our core guys to play better. Von, he had a good year this year. Can Von play better? Yeah, I think Von can play better. That’s part of the new thing when that comes in with the next coach.”
In response to Elway’s comments, Von’s mother, Gloria Miller, posted on a local blog that, in part, said, “Von’s NOT the problem the problem is Elway EVERY QB he’s brought in was a fluke!! He wants to halfass pay the vets but wants them to perform at a high caliber. He has no clue on drafting at any position. He needs to work on an offensive line & QB. Trading Von isn’t the answer but best of luck with that. Elway has wasted more money on QBs than ANY TEAM IN THE NFL. I get it it’s easier to blame Von but it’s NOT HIM."
Gloria Miller then posted references to what she said was criticism of Von Miller by Joseph during the season and that Miller’s agent, Joby Branion, should contact Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
Von Miller has declined comment since his mother’s online comment, and the back-and-forth has powered plenty of drive-time discussion in the Rocky Mountain region during a coaching search. But those who interviewed for the team’s head-coaching position have privately said Miller is an important piece in the team’s future.
And before the social media firestorm, Miller said he believed it was his job “on the field and in the locker room” to help the team rebound.
“I’ve got another shot to do more," Miller said. “That’s how I look at it, that’s how I feel … We’ve got a lot of big-time players here and we can bounce back.”