When a team gives up 424 total yards and relinquishes over 35 minutes in time of possession and 20 points, it's hard to say any individual defender played well. As for the Denver Broncos' seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller, some fans questioned why he seemed to fade in the second half of the team's 20-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 12.
Perhaps a knee injury we learned about on Monday had a little something to do with it. Miller still posted three tackles and notched his sixth sack of the season but as he's been throughout most of this season, he was hardly the tour-de-force difference-maker fans have come to expect on a game-in, game-out basis.
“I think he’s fine," head coach Vic Fangio said on Monday back at the team's Dove Valley headquarters. "He came in for treatment today and is getting some tests, but he’s fine at this point.”
The Broncos would be wise to take it easy with Miller this week, as the team prepares to host the Division-rival Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. He's in his ninth year and age-30 season after all.
Miller officially hit that dreaded '30' mark this past March and while it'd be nice to say that Father Time has had nothing to do with the Super Bowl 50 MVP's 'down' year, it wouldn't be prudent to completely dismiss the notion. Also factoring into Miller's relative lack of statistical production is the fact that he's playing in a new system that requires him to do some things differently from an assignment perspective.
We also can't dismiss the fact that Miller has played the last seven games without his edge-rushing partner Bradley Chubb. Chubb suffered a torn ACL in the Broncos' Week 4 loss to Jacksonville and was lost for the season.
The two pass rushers combined for 26.5 sacks last season playing in the Vance Joseph/Joe Woods defense, which led some overly-optimistic media members to speculate whether the 30-sack mark would be attainable by the duo in Fangio's scheme. Such optimism failed to take into account how different Fangio's scheme is from what Miller and Chubb were accustomed to in the Broncos' previous scheme, and really, what Von himself was used to from an Xs and Os perspective since 2015.
This has been a bizarre season for Miller and the Broncos. Defensively, things have yet to really click, although it's been far from a disaster in year one of the Fangio regime.
The Broncos entered Week 12 ranked in the top-5 against the pass and 11th against the run, while also ranking in the top-10 in third-down and red-zone efficiency. The biggest problem has been fielding a consistent pass rush with Chubb on IR and trying to keep the coverage units' head above water with the injury bug taking such a big bite out of the cornerback depth.
Whatever the ultimate issues are, it turns out Batman needs Robin a lot more than perhaps fans realized.