Here's a scary thought: How good are the Broncos if quarterback Peyton Manning is the second-best player on the team?
The most valuable player on the Denver roster could be a subject of heated debate. But let there be no doubt. The dance contest is over. Who has the hottest dance moves on the Broncos?
"You know, I think I'm running away with it," Miller told me, during a recent, rare, boastful moment at Denver's practice facility. "I've been getting a lot of practice. And practice makes perfect."
Denver not only buried San Diego on Sunday, the Broncos destroyed the scared-of-his-shadow quarterback formerly known as Philip Rivers. Miller danced on the Chargers' grave in a 30-23 victory.
Impossible has become just another chore on the honey-do list for Miller. With three sacks against the Chargers, the second-year pro now has recorded 24.5 in his first 25 NFL games, evoking memories of the late, great Derrick Thomas.
"To be a great pass rusher in my opinion ... you've got to have a relentless pursuit and a fanatical effort to the ball," Miller said after his team's fifth consecutive victory. "You look around at the great linebackers playing now from DeMarcus Ware to Clay Matthews, and they have fanatical effort and relentless pursuit to the ball. I just try to apply that to my game."
Where does Miller go from here? The relentless pursuit of NFL history.
Since the sack became an official league statistic 30 years ago, only eight players have recorded as many as 20 in a single season. Nobody has taken down the quarterback more than the 22.5 times Michael Strahan did in the name of mayhem and the New York Giants in 2001.
Before this 16-game campaign is done, Miller could be dancing with legends and breaking an NFL record. "Derrick Thomas. To be even in the same breath with that guy is humbling," Miller said.
Wouldn't you hate to be Rivers, trying to go to sleep with visions of Miller in your head?
- More photos from field-level for Broncos-Chargers game Nov. 18.
- Analyze the DEN-SD boxscore.
- Evaluate the latest team numbers on the Broncos Stats Page.
- Evaluate Chargers Stats Page.
- Find analysis, notes and buzz on First-and-Orange Broncos blog.
- Contribute to The Bronco Bus fan forum.
- Ask Mike Klis about the game in the Broncos Mailbag.
- Scan Broncos 2012 schedule.
The beauty is simple anatomy. The brain of a quarterback resides behind the thin curtain of his brave face. Get in the face of the QB often enough and you mess with the mind of even a seasoned NFL veteran. Rivers is one tough dude. But he spent much of the afternoon as antsy as a man tiptoeing across the interstate, hoping the big, orange No. 58 bus didn't flatten him.
"As a pass rusher, it's all about getting from point A to point B as fast as I can," Miller said.
We hold the destructive power of his sacks to be self-evident. So let's focus on a single play against San Diego, a snap when Miller didn't actually record a takedown of Rivers.
With 9 minutes, 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Denver holding a 27-16 lead, the Chargers threw caution to the wind and went for it on fourth down. Rivers barked signals at Denver's 46-yard line. San Diego assigned a receiver to slow Miller with a chip block at the point of attack, funneling the linebacker toward the heavy traffic in the middle of the line.
Miller, however, relentlessly swam through the debris to the point where Rivers was ready to unload his pass, and flew at the San Diego quarterback with a leap that would do Superman proud.
The result of Miller's mayhem? An interception by Denver safety Jim Leonhard.
If numbers had a sense of justice, Miller would have been credited with half a turnover.
Manning has changed everything for Denver, transforming the Broncos from a team with little more than a Tim Tebow prayer in the playoffs into a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
But the growth of the Denver defense, given its imagination by coordinator Jack Del Rio and its bite by Miller, allows the Broncos a shot at knocking off Tom Brady or whatever quarterback gets in their way during the playoffs.
"Coach Del Rio, he's like a wizard," Miller said. "But I think it all starts with the players."
The noise made by this Denver defense begins with Miller.
Get up, everybody. And crank the music.
Miller is a sack-dancing fool.