ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Seattle Seahawks are well aware of how dangerous the Broncos' edge-rushers are.
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson's comparisons for Von Miller have combined for seven MVP trophies and 11 championships. But the accolades for that trio come on the hardwood, not the gridiron.
"When you're playing certain guys, when you're playing LeBron James or you're playing guys like Kobe Bryant or Steph Curry, they're going to make good plays," said Wilson on a conference call Wednesday. "He's one of those guys for sure."
For Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, the toughest part of the task is that's he can't worry about just Miller. Rather, he must game plan against both Miller and Bradley Chubb, who had 10 sacks last year with NC State before being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft.
"You can't get much better," said Carroll of the outside linebacking duo. "You can't get much more athletic. You can't get much more playmaking out of your two edge guys. It's been clear from Von's play for a long time, the great performer that he is and producer, you've got problems whether you have anybody on the other side or not. But Bradley has just done a lot of really good things in preseason. [He] looks very comfortable, the scheme fits him, the style of play fits him, and he's a big, physical kid. It really looks like he's on top of his game already. They obviously have a great guy, and it's going to be a big complement to the defense."
It's high, high praise for one of the league's most-feared pass rushers and his rookie teammate, but the respect is mutual from the Broncos' end as well.
“[Wilson's] the best," Broncos Head Coach Vance Joseph said. "He is the best movement quarterback in this entire league. Last year he had the most 10-plus-yard runs as the quarterback, and that kills you — especially on third downs. We have to have a great, great rush plan to contain this guy. Obviously, he’s going to escape from time to time, so our coverage guys have to cover twice. When the ball’s snapped, they have to cover the concept, and when he starts scrambling, they have to cover the scramble plays. That makes it difficult, especially on third down. All of the big plays go through Russell, and most of them are outside of the pocket. He’s a dangerous guy. ... He’s a special player and their offense obviously goes through him.”
Outside linebacker Shane Ray knows Wilson will require Denver's defense to combine smart play, everyone being on the same page and a heavy dose of discipline.
"It can't be 'OK, I got off the ball and I can beat this guy, but if I don't make the play there's this huge lane,'" Ray said. "It can't be that. We all have to be on the same page, we all have to contain, we all gotta basically play with our hair on fire. The more we can chase him and run after him, the less opportunity he has to find those guys downfield and make plays."
The stats back up Joseph and Ray's points of emphasis. Wilson ran for 586 yards last year, second only to Cam Newton among quarterbacks. His 5.9 yards per carry was tops among quarterbacks with at least 60 carries. Whether through the air or on the ground, Wilson accounted for all but one of Seattle's 38 offensive touchdowns last year.
When things break down, Wilson is a great escape artist, and he takes advantage of any small mistake.
That's what makes him so tough, according to Chubb.
"You can’t just be up the field, can’t just be coming out here all fast and stuff like that," Chubb said. "You’ve got to make sure you keep them in the pocket because with any crease he can take off with it. Just make sure that we all have our gaps that we need to be in and just make sure that everybody is doing their job."
One aspect playing in the Broncos' favor is their depth at outside linebacker. Chasing Wilson is an exhausting exercise throughout a game, but Denver can rotate Miller, Chubb, Ray and Shaquil Barrett on the edges, allowing the pass rush off the edge to stay fresh, even against one of the game's most nimble signal callers.
"It's huge," said Ray about the position's depth. "You think about it, we have four elite pass rushers. To be able to rotate all of us guys in, or [to have] the packages we can do that have us all four in at one time, I feel like it creates a lot of versatility and it keeps them tired. They're like 'Damn, there's another guy who's coming in who's a very, very good football player. I'm tired.' [It's] just wearing guys out, and that's what we want to do."
Wilson's a unique matchup — one that the Broncos likely won't face for the rest of the season — but he's also well aware of the Broncos' talent all over the defense, not just at outside linebacker.
"Obviously Chris Harris [Jr.] is one of the best corners in the world," Wilson said. "He can make a lot of plays. [Bradley] Roby's an absolute star, too. And then you think about their safeties, they play tough, they play physical downhill and make a lot of plays, so it's not an easy feat. ... They're a defense that plays physical, they play fast and make a lot of plays. Obviously it starts with Von, one of the best players in the game of football ever."
Wilson has made a career out of making the most out of plays that look like they're going nowhere. For Broncos defenders, making sure those plays actually do go nowhere will require a balance of playing aggressively enough to force the issue but smartly enough to not get caught out of position.
"It's all about discipline," Ray said. "When you play guys like this, what it comes down to is who's going to be the most disciplined defense that plays against this quarterback. How are you going to contain him? How are you going to take away his traits? Because the offense runs through him."