It’s got to be all that dancing.
Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller already has 4 sacks this year. He’s never had that many through two games. Once, in 2012 he had three sacks this early. That was the year he had a career high 18.5 sacks.
Miller didn’t practice with the Broncos during the offseason. All he did was dance. He finished seventh on Dancing with the Stars. And now he’s off to the best start of his career.
It can’t be a coincidence.
“I’ve never put six hours into one day, every single day,’’ Miller said. “Not even football. We practice for two hours. Six hours every single day. It made me consistent. It made me come to work every single day and work on something that I wasn’t really good at. When I come out here and play football, this is what I do. I’m a professional football player. So it’s easier for me to do this. And I think having to struggle with that has definitely helped me here.’’
Miller had 60 sacks through his first five seasons, or 12 a year, so it’s not like he couldn’t rush the passer before he learned to dance. And his primary asset as a pass rusher was his Gumby-like flexibility.
Still, Miller doesn’t scoff at what his time with professional dancer Witney Carson in Hollywood during the summer did for his ability to rush the quarterback.
“I already had agility and flexibility but I think the consistent part,’’ Miller said. “Coming to work and doing something that I’m not good at. On Mondays coming in and doing that in front of millions of people and having Witney really depend on me to get my job done. That’s the correlation that it has on the football field. I’m not tackling guys on the dance floor but the work you put in to be a great dancer has a direct correlation that you need to have to be a great football player.’’
When a star player gets off to a fast start, they smell a once-in-a-lifetime season. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had 7 touchdown passes in his first game of 2013. He kept his foot on the gas until he finished that season with a record 55 touchdown passes.
Miller has a chance for his first 20 sack season. He could get his first NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips even brought up MVP.
That’ll be difficult. Only two defensive players have ever won the NFL MVP Award – Alan Page in 1971 and Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
Even Gary Kubiak, an old-fashioned ball coach who isn’t much for silly stuff, didn’t dismiss Miller’s offseason dancing program as a factor in his star defensive player’s fast start.
“I’m very impressed with the fact that when a guy is not here throughout the course of an offseason, through contracts, as a coach, you always worry about how they come back,’’ Kubiak said. “Look how Von has come back. I think the fact that we had a short offseason and that was something he was doing, sure as hell had to help him. It couldn’t have hurt him.”
There is no question all that dancing has helped Von Miller as a pass rusher. At the very least, his sack dances are much more suitable for family viewing.
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