ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –It shouldn't surprise anyone that the return of last year's defensive player of the year runner-up has helped the Broncos' defense.
But since Miller returned from his six-game suspension to start the year, Denver's defensive statistics have been steadily improving.
"We've been a lot better," linebacker and defensive co-captain Wesley Woodyard said. "He allows us to do several different things out there. We can put him at rush end and bring another linebacker off the bench. It opens up so many different packages with a player like him out there on the field."
Prior to his return, the defense was giving up 407.5 yards per game, ranking 29th in that category. Since his Week 7 debut, that same unit is surrendering just 309.7 yards per game, with that 24 percent improvement ranking third in the league in that span.
While Miller's two sacks in the three games he's played this year are below his career rate
of .97 sacks per game entering this season, he has been able to make an impact on the game in ways that don't always show up in the boxscore.
"Sometimes the production comes, sometimes it doesn't," Miller said. "I've got a great coaching staff that's been giving me pointers and trying to get it going, trying to make sure that production comes. What better game than this weekend to get the production going? But I'm going to take it one play at a time. That's what's been working for me in the past, that's what's been working for me now."
According to Pro Football Focus, the production is there – it just isn't necessarily showing up in stats.
Miller has needed just three games to ascend to the top spot on the premium statistics website's rankings of 4-3 outside linebackers.
The third-year linebacker has earned a cumulative overall grade of 18.6, which is 2.9 points better than the second place Lavonte David and more than double the grade of James Harrison, who occupies third place on the list.
"Having Von back – I think he's played better each week he's been back," Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said.
Miller has totaled 13 tackles with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble since his return. He's picked up one sack in each of the past two games.
"That first week, a lot people said he didn't play Von Miller football but to me I thought he played really well against the run," Woodyard said. He had a TFL or two. Von, now he's getting a sack, he's getting that Von Miller swag going back up. It's going to be crazy to see him cut loose this Sunday."
Miller ranks first among players at his position in pass-rush grade and is third in his grade against the run. He is one of just five outside linebackers to record a positive grade in rush, coverage, run and penalties according to Pro Football Focus.
Much was made of Miller's muscle-weight gain leading into his debut, and Miller said he's happy with the way he's carried that extra weight.
"Yeah, I feel great," Miller said. "I feel quick. Like I said before, I'm in the best place in my life, physically and emotionally. I'm looking forward to a great game this weekend and it'll be great. I'm looking forward to it."