The suspension of Von Miller for violation of the league’s substance policy isn’t just a big hit to the Denver Broncos and their linebacker core, but also something that might seriously jeopardize their chances of dominating the AFC and fulfilling their Super Bowl aspirations.
The Broncos are trying to reduce the ban to four games, but in any case, this seems like a serious hit, especially after the Broncos also lost Elvis Dumervil during the offseason to a very silly contract negotiation, which brought Dumervil to be released from the team, and end up signing with the Baltimore Ravens.
Miller has 30 sacks over his first two seasons in the league, including 18.5 last season. However, now that he’s out for the first six games of the season, the rest of the injuries the Broncos seem to be picking up at an incredible pace during the preseason seem a lot more serious than before.
Champ Bailey, Wes Welker, Derek Wolfe and Louis Vasquez picked up injuries in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, while middle linebacker Stewart Bradley is headed to surgery on his left wrist, and will miss close to a month, meaning he’ll be out for at least the first two weeks of the regular season.
This hurts the Broncos at linebacker; in their pass rush, and also makes them a lot smaller, with a player like Wesley Woodyard moving into middle linebacker, and presents a much smaller option at the position when compared with Bradley, lighter by more than 10 pounds.
Danny Trevathan will occupy the weakside linebacker spot and Nate Irving will probably be on the strong side for now. The Broncos played a lot of Nickel defense last season, and it remains to be seen if these changes (Forced) will push them even further to use a three cornerback defense early in the season, but the early signs from their games against the two power offenses of the NFC West suggest that until Miller is back, they’re going to have a lot of problems slowing down teams compared to last season.