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Von Miller calls 2017 season 'regular,' discusses Broncos quarterback play, Aqib Talib's future

Posted at 10:54 AM, Jan 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-31 13:12:16-05

DENVER -- Von Miller expects more -- from himself and the Broncos quarterbacks.

Appearing on ESPN's First Take from the site of Super Bowl 52, Miller addressed the question hanging over the Broncos' offseason like an anvil.

What is going on with the Broncos' quarterback position?

Only the Browns performed worse than Denver in 2017 with the Broncos making six changes under center during a dreadful last-place finish in the AFC West. Miller, showing his evolution as a leader, pointed the finger at himself as he discussed the most important factor in the Broncos' recovery. 

"I mean whenever you have a season like the 5-11 season we had this year, there's more than just one issue going on. It's all types of issues. And this offseason I think we will be able to address some of those," Miller said Wednesday morning. "We have to get some consistent quarterback play. We have to be more consistent on defense. Ten sacks for me? It's just regular. I am there to get 15, you know 20 sacks. I didn't have the year I could have possibly had. If I can get going on defense, and we get some more consistent play on offense, we could be right back in the playoffs."

Miller finished with 10 sacks, his lowest total since 2013. However, a deeper dive into the stats revealed his destructive production. Pro Football Focus ranked him first in quarterback pressures among edge defenders with 83. His 31 tackles on rushing attempts sat second behind Oakland's Khalil Mack among edge players. 

Miller became the focal point of the opposition's game plan, consistently double-teamed and chipped. With Shane Ray suffering through a lost season because of left wrist surgery, the Broncos lacked a dynamic rusher on the opposite side. Miller believes, like many of his teammates, that a new quarterback can lead to a fresh start. He praised Kirk Cousins after the quarterback riddled the Broncos in a December victory.

With Alex Smith now in Washington -- "I thought it was quick, right? It's never too early to go and get a franchise quarterback," Miller said -- the path clears for the Broncos to aggressively pursue Cousins without fear of a transition tag or draft pick compensation. Miller wants him, has talked to him, admitting, "It's still a quarterback's game." He indicated earlier this week that Cousins could elevate the Broncos, echoing what he said in December.

"A lot of teams would literally kill to have a quarterback like that," Miller said.

In order to land Cousins, the Broncos will likely need to massage their $23 million in salary cap space. It remains possible they will attempt to trade cornerback Aqib Talib, making room for Bradley Roby to start. The move would be connected to the team's confidence in the former Ohio State star more than saving money on Talib's contract. The idea of Talib moving on, however, is not welcomed by many veterans, Miller among them.

"He's extremely important to our team, not only our defense, but the overall attitude of our defense," Miller said. "You know when you have Aqib on your team. ... whatever is right is going be said, and whatever is wrong is going be said. He doesn't hold his tongue for anybody. You know going into the game he has the players' best interest in mind and that we are going to play well because that's his mindset."

Miller straddled the fence when talking about the Super Bowl. He gave the slight edge to the Patriots because of Tom Brady, but believes the Eagles' pass rush gives them a chance to pull off the upset. 

"You look at the four dudes they have rushing," Miller said. "The Eagles defensive line was the best in the league. But, if they aren't able to get to Tom Brady, he will be typical Tom Brady." 

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