Broncos' Von Miller sets sights on 20-sack season


Von Miller has a long-term and short-term goal. Both are ambitious.

The Denver Broncos' QB-menace set his sights at Bruce Smith's all-time sack record of 200. To get there, Miller knows he needs one big season to set up a pace in advance of the normal end-of-career slowdown. Miller currently boasts 98 sacks in eight seasons, 12.25 per year. A 20-sack season would put him on an even better pace toward the record.

"I feel like I haven't even made it halfway yet," Miller said, via the team's official website. "I'm going on nine [seasons]. We had Bruce Smith at our pass-rush summit and I talked to him about it a little bit. He played 20 years and averaged 10 sacks a season. That's right where I'm at with it. Hopefully I can get one of those 20-sack seasons. If I can get one of those in, it'll put me ahead of the pace. I'm still feeling good. I told [Bradley] Chubb today, 'I'm old but I'm still good. I still feel good out there. I still look good, Chubb?' And he was like, 'Yes.'

"As long as I'm still going and as long as I'm still playing first and second down, and rushing the quarterback on third, then I'm good. Whenever I start slipping to third down, then you know Von is on the way out. But I think that's a long way away for me."

Miller's career-high sits at 18.5 sacks, earned in his second season in 2012. He's generated double-digit QB-clobbers in seven of his eight seasons, falling shy only in his injury-shortened 2013 campaign.

At his current pace, Miller would need to play into his 17th NFL season (16.33). A 20-sack campaign would lower that to just over 15 years (15.27).

It's interesting to note that Miller didn't first target Michael Strahan's 22.5 single-season sack record en route to his goal of getting past Smith. Perhaps that goal is understood without verbal admission. Perhaps it speaks to Miller's overarching ambition as more important than an in-the-moment aim.

Smith played 19 NFL seasons and never recorded a 20-sack year. He played in an era with much less passing overall, however, and still earned double-digit sacks in 13 years, and was remarkably consistent even near the twilight of his career. Smith's career-high for a season was 19 sacks in 1990.

Pass rushers don't always age like Smith or Julius Peppers, to name another man Miller must pass on the all-time list. For some, the end comes like a brick wall. Miller earning a 20-sack season would help keep his goal in reach without needing to play 20 years to get close.

His new coach certainly believes there is a shot Miller can hit 20 QB takedowns in 2019.

"If he does all the little things that are necessary to do that, he's definitely got a great chance to do that," Vic Fangio said. "But the little things are going to make the difference for him. And it's not just on the field, it's off the field. Preparation, rest -- all those things. Being attentive to the details and technique.

"If he does that, yes, the sky is the limit."