ORLANDO – Von Miller and Bill Kollar in the same meeting room, hour after hour, day after day.
At his second NFL coaches breakfast here Tuesday morning, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph brought up a unique twist to his coaching assignments.
Miller, the "Will" linebacker and star pass rusher who usually lines up on the left side, will now be coached by the fiery Kollar, who otherwise coaches defensive linemen.
Shane Ray and Shaq Barrett, the "Sam" linebackers who rush from the other side, will be coached by Reggie Herring, who also coaches the “Mike” and “Mo” inside backers, Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis.
Reggie, Mike and Mo. And Von.
Von Miller and Bill Kollar.
As another NFL coach texted to 9News: Von and Kollar together could be good reality TV. (Attractive as the Broncos might be to HBO's Hard Knocks, the series is not expected to set up at the construction zone that is UCHealth Training Center during camp this year).
Kollar is an old-school coach who hollers and cusses and isn’t afraid to hold on to the belief that even in the trophy-kid era a kick in the butt inspires performance more than a pat on the back.
Miller, fresh off his 29th birthday Monday, has belied his goofy, inner-child persona with a more serious work ethic in the two seasons since Peyton Manning retired.
But he’s still a goofy kid at heart.
“Kollar can be a hard-nosed coach, but his guys perform,’’ Joseph said. “And I think Von wants that. Von wants to be pushed. He wants to be great. I’m excited to watch coach Kollar and Von work together every day, because third downs, he’s with coach Kollar, anyway. But it’s going to be an everyday relationship now, so it’s going to be fun to watch. Watch those fireworks.”
In recent years, the Broncos’ coaching staff had the more conventional arrangement where Kollar coached defensive linemen, Fred Pagac coached outside linebackers and Reggie Herring coached inside linebackers.
Pagac was fired after the 2017 season. He sure was a good coach when Miller and DeMarcus Ware were unblockable outside linebackers against Tom Brady in the 2015-season AFC Championship Game.
But then Ware retired, Shane Ray had a serious wrist injury that limited him to one sack, and a double-teamed Miller had his second-lowest career total with 10.0 sacks in 2017.
The idea behind the new coaching responsibilities blossomed from a desire to use Miller less in coverage and more as a pass rusher. Miller is pretty good coverage. But he’s not getting paid $19.083 million a year to cover running backs.
The Broncos initially were going to have Herring coach all the linebackers, Kollar the defensive linemen and there were plans of hiring Ware as a pass-rush coach who would bounce between both rooms.
Ware turned down the position. The Broncos also talked to Chad Brown about a part-time, pass-rush coaching role but it never solidified.
Instead, the Broncos came up with an out-of-box alignment. Kollar, who has schemed much of the Broncos’ pass rush the past three years, anyway, took Miller into his room. Herring got the other linebackers. The Sams, Mikes and Mos.
Chris Beake, a longtime defensive assistant, received a promotion of sorts in that he will now be a sub-down specialist coach who works with both Herring’s linebackers and Kollar’s Will linebackers.
“To have Von Miller with Bill Kollar is going to be a good thing for us because now we can get him more rushes,’’ Joseph said. “That’s the point behind it. We’re trying to streamline our staff a little bit. You want your best rusher to be really focused on rushing every day and not so much on dropping.”
The Broncos also came up with a coaching twist on the offensive side where Sean Kugler and Chris Strausser will split the offensive line responsibilities. Kugler has the interior and Strausser has the tackles.
Apparently, when you’re coming off 5-11, you think of everything.