ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the wake of
"When he was out, we were still undefeated. We were able to still win as a team," said cornerback
Replacing Miller will be a team effort.
For the defensive end/pass-rush part of Miller's role,
"Anytime you take any of those caliber of players, it's more of a 'next men up' kind of approach," said Head Coach John Fox, tweaking one the philosophical maxims upon which he's leaned heavily this year.
Overall the defense is more efficient against the pass with Miller in the lineup, using comparisons that include Sunday's game:
* Yards per play: With Miller, 5.00; without, 5.80.
* Yards per pass play: With Miller, 5.51; without, 7.07.
* Percentage of pass plays that gain first downs: With Miller, 30.97 percent; without, 32.14.
But by other metrics -- particularly measuring the run -- the defense was better without Miller, although other factors such as the neck injury
* Yards per rush: With Miller, 4.36; without, 3.18.
* Percentage of runs that gain first downs: With Miller, 23.87 percent; without, 18.24.
Curiously, the Broncos' pass-rush production has been comparable:
* Quarterback hits: With Miller, one every 7.56 pass plays; without, one ever 7.51 pass plays.
* Hurries (as measured by ProFootballFocus.com): With Miller, one every 2.77 pass plays; without, one every 2.61 pass plays.
* Sacks: With Miller, one every 16.32 pass plays; without, one every 15.40 pass plays.
Some of that is due to the fact that the Broncos have replicated their pass-rush production by using their nickel linebackers (Wesley Woodyard and
The Broncos have hit opposing quarterbacks 41 times during the eight-plus games Miller played, and 41 times the rest of the season. In Miller's time, just three of the hits were by the defensive backs, Woodyard and Trevathan. When Miller was out, 13 of the hits came from those groupings: seven from Woodyard, two from Trevathan, two from Harris, one from
Harris' pass-rush production might fall to
"I’m pretty sure we’ll have a lot of games going on with the (defensive) line, be sending Champ a lot," Harris said. "That’s what we do, so I expect us to continue to do some creative stuff. On the back end, me and DRC (
The other factor that will help is the emergence of interior pass rushers. Defensive tackle
Their growth might make an increased reliance on blitzes less necessary, but Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio will lean on every possible gambit with a proper risk-reward ratio to replace Miller.