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Here's how the Broncos will attempt to replace the irreplaceable Von Miller

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 10, 2020

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos lost a future Hall-of-Fame player, Super Bowl 50 MVP, the most decorated player on their roster and the highest-paid player on the team when Von Miller suffered a dislocated tendon near his ankle during Tuesday’s practice.

While the specifics aren’t fully known regarding if Miller will need surgery and exactly how long he’ll be out, the Broncos have to move on as if Von is not in their plans for the 2020 season as he’ll be placed on the injured reserve “at some point,” according to Vic Fangio.

As Justin Simmons stated on Wednesday, there is just simply no replacing the type of player Von Miller is.

But the Broncos don’t have a choice. They have to find a way to replace the irreplaceable.

“The whole team has to pick up the void. It’s not the player that ends up playing for him. It’s not the defense. It’s not the offense. It’s not the special teams. It’s everybody,” Fangio stated on Wednesday. “When you lose a player of that caliber, everybody has got to pick up the slack in all facets — on the field and off the field, in the locker room.

“We have a good enough team to do that,” Fangio said convincingly. “If you’re a good enough team, you can overcome these injuries. There are countless examples of that over the years — very recently, very long time ago. Any time you want to look at, there have been these types of injuries that teams have overcome and still have had successful seasons. And we want to be added to that list.”

Drew Lock and Simmons echoed a similar sentiment that the large void left by Miller will be up to the entire team to fill, not just the outside linebackers that will be asked to fill his spot.

But ultimately a player will have to step on the field in place of No. 58. When asked if the Broncos would consider adding a free agent — considering Terrell Suggs and Clay Matthews, a couple of big-time names, are still available — Fangio simply pointed to Malik Reed and Jeremiah Attaochu to fill Von’s spot.

“It will be Jerry and Malik. They will share it,” Fangio said, not even entertaining the thought of adding someone outside the organization. “That’s what happened last year when Bradley [Chubb] went out. It will be those two guys primarily sharing those snaps. Who ends up starting, who ends up playing in what packages will be fluid. It will be those two guys. I wouldn’t say it’s one guy.”

Attaochu, who signed with the Broncos immediately after Chubb suffered his season-ending ACL injury last year, started the final five games for Denver at outside linebacker. In those five starts, the 2014 2nd-round pick racked up 3.5 sacks, including a two-sack game against the Houston Texans. He also averaged one quarterback hit per start.

Reed, an undrafted rookie last year, immediately took Chubb’s starting role beginning in Week 5. In the following eight games, all starts, Reed failed to rack up a sack but totaled three quarterback hits and two tackles for a loss. During his rookie season, Reed played in 15 games, had two sacks, five quarterback hits, four tackles for a loss and 24 total tackles.

“I have confidence in them that they are going to be able to play to their abilities. Neither one is Von Miller. But they are who they are and all we need for them to do is do their job to the best of their abilities. And if they do that, we’ll be fine,” Fangio said, stating that he’s not expecting Attaochu and Reed to play like Von.

Throughout training camp, Von Miller was tearing up offensive lineman. Off the field, Miller focused on taking his leadership to the next level. Von’s evolution throughout the offseason was so obvious, Fangio said he believed Miller’s “hell of an offseason” was going to translate to a “hell of a season.”

“We’re disappointed. Anytime you lose anybody you are disappointed. But we will move on and we will make it work,” Fangio stated with confidence. “We lost Bradley last year — an equal player at the same position and we played our best football after that. That’s not because we didn’t have Bradley, we just kept developing as a team and we compensated for it. We have a better team this year overall. So I expect us to still be a good team without Von.”

In the first three weeks of last season, with Chubb and Miller, the Broncos were off to a historically slow start getting after the quarterback as they had zero total sacks. In Week 4, Chubb’s last game, the team had five. In the final 12 games without Chubb, the Broncos racked up 35 more sacks.

With Chubb, in the first four weeks of the season, the Broncos averaged 1.25 sacks per game. In the final 12 without Chubb, Denver averaged nearly three sacks per game. Fangio is hoping the rest of the defense steps their game up without Von similarly to how they responded last year when Chubb went down.

“We can still go out and play winning football,” Fangio stated. “We will move forward — never forgetting Von, obviously, and hoping he returns at some point this year. The good thing about his injury is once it’s healed, it’s healed. It’s not one of those that will have lingering effects.”

Until Von Miller is back on the field, whether that be in 2020 or beyond, the Broncos will look to replace an eight-time Pro Bowler with players already on the roster.

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