ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Two years after setting his sights on 30 sacks, Von Miller has tempered his expectations a bit.
Now 30 years old, Miller has set his sights on a more manageable goal.
He’s OK with only 20.
If he can get there, he would be just 2.5 sacks short of the single-season record, and he’d put himself in position to perhaps make a run at the all-time sack record.
With 20 sacks next season, Miller would bump his career total to 118.5 regular-season sacks in nine seasons. The all-time record is 200, which Hall of Famer Bruce Smith reached after 19 seasons in the NFL.
Smith, who never recorded a 20-sack season, reached double-digit sacks in 13 of his 19 seasons.
As Miller enters 2019, he’s yet to reach the halfway mark on his race for 200. But after recording double-digit sacks in seven of his first eight years, he could make a push if he can approach Smith’s longevity.
And if he should push past his single-season high of 18.5 sacks — which he recorded in 2012 — he’d certainly do himself a favor in that attempt.
“I feel like I haven’t even made it halfway yet,” Miller said Wednesday. “I’m going on nine [seasons]. We had Bruce Smith at our pass-rush summit and I talked to him about it a little bit. He played 20 years and averaged 10 sacks a season. That’s right where I’m at with it. Hopefully I can get one of those 20-sack seasons. If I can get one of those in, it’ll put me ahead of the pace. I’m still feeling good. I told [Bradley] Chubb today, ‘I’m old but I’m still good. I still feel good out there. I still look good, Chubb?’ And he was like, ‘Yes.’
“As long as I’m still going and as long as I’m still playing first and second down, and rushing the quarterback on third, then I’m good. Whenever I start slipping to third down, then you know Von is on the way out. But I think that’s a long way away for me.”
As Miller’s recorded his 98.5 career sacks — a total that doesn’t include his 6.5 postseason sacks — he’s done enough to make others take notice.
Broncos Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell, who spent the last four seasons with the Bears, can be counted among that group.
“You just see him a lot because he’s a high-profile player,” Donatell said. “He’s a rare, explosive, athletic player, and that’s very viable to playing team defense.”
After being hired, Head Coach Vic Fangio chose to avoid watching old tape on the Broncos to avoid becoming biased before coaching the team. Donatell, though, couldn’t help but watch the pass-rushing duo of Miller and Chubb.
“I cheated a little bit and went back and watched them,” Donatell said. “You couldn’t help but watch them. Those are the type of guys that you want to put this defense in. They’re ideal, they’re good hard workers and it’s just great to have them to start this defense.”
And while Fangio and Donatell are likely focused more on the team’s goals than Miller’s objective, they both would likely admit that if Miller finds success, the Broncos should, as well.
Fangio, asked Thursday about Miller’s goal, thinks there’s a path for No. 58 to get No. 20.
“If he does all the little things that are necessary to do that, he’s definitely got a great chance to do that,” Fangio said. “But the little things are going to make the difference for him. And it’s not just on the field, it’s off the field. Preparation, rest — all those things. Being attentive to the details and technique.
“If he does that, yes, the sky is the limit.”