While Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow draws all the attention from the press, pass rushing rookie sensation Von Miller has flown under the radar despite being a living nightmare of sorts, racking up 9.5 sacks in only 10 games. Miller’s disruptive behavior on the football field is equivalent to an earthquake, rudely interrupting an individual’s sunny day for a brief amount of time before leaving, only to come back again with constant aftershocks.
His explosion out of his ghost (stand-up) five technique alignment, on display here against Jets offensive tackle Wayne Hunter, demonstrates his quick-twitch ability at the snap.
Miller’s mind-bending explosiveness allowed him to get a step up on Hunter, enabling him to get his hands inside the breast plates before Hunter was able to get his hands off his hips.
Once he has the leverage advantage, Miller is free to choose his pathway to the quarterback. Miller administers a bulrush move, bending at his knees and forcefully settling his hips low to the ground, allowing him to sink his hands into the chest of Hunter and simply drive the blocker back into the backfield with his feet.
Much like the aforementioned aftershocks of an earthquake, pass blockers don’t know what to expect from Miller as he varies his rush moves in an effort to get to the opposition’s signal caller.
In the infancy of the season, Miller matched up with the Cincinnati Bengals’ former sixth overall selection Andre Smith. Smith, a top heavy yet talented pass blocker, dealt with several problems in his matchup with Miller.
Before the snap, Smith pondered as he saw Miller aligned across his outside shoulder in a ghost five technique: ”How would I deal with his explosive speed rush? Perhaps I could kickslide out further and use my long arms to re-route him?”
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton yells “hut!” and its off to the races; Miller explodes forward from his ghost five technique alignment while Smith simultaneously kickslides, driving off his inside foot while sliding his outside foot laterally.
While Smith is sliding, he is so focused on counteracting Miller’s speed rush that he fails to execute the fundamentals of blocking. Smith, as often seen, fails to get his hands off his hips and bends at his waist, which is impermissible in blocking and consequently is caught lunging. Miller eyeballs Smith’s fundamental issues and takes advantage, executing a counter rip as he delivers a blow to Smith’s shoulder and forcibly closing in on quarterback Andy Dalton.
A couple weeks later, second-year offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse would have his chance at impeding Miller’s path when the undefeated Green Bay Packers matched up with the win-less Denver Broncos. Based off of film study, Newhouse knew what to expect. If he slid too far out, he’d leave an open path of destruction for Miller to his star quarterback. But if he stayed too far in, he’d get beat outside by Miller’s vaunted speed rush. He’d have to simply find a way to stand in the way of Miller without exposing himself — a difficult task to accomplish.
Before the snap of the ball, Miller lined up in his often seen overhang — ghost five technique — alignment while Newhouse was in a two-point stance, implying he’d be in pass protection.
When the ball is put into play, Miller jabs his inside foot into the interior area of Newhouse before taking it back outside and executing a swim move. Miller uses his left hand to rock Newhouse back inside before bringing his inside arm, his right, over the top of the blocker. By doing this, he creates an advantage for himself, surpassing the obstacle momentarily.
However, Newhouse is able to recover and attempts to re-route the violent Miller wide of the pocket. To counter the efforts of Newhouse, Miller uses his lithe body to bend the arch, dipping his shoulder, becoming compact and making it more difficult for Newhouse to re-route him. By doing this, he is able to get to quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Miller is not your traditional outside linebacker, as he serves more as a pass rusher in an overhang alignment. The coaching staff has done a brilliant job of moving him around, attacking interior offensive linemen that struggle in their dealings with quicker players, which is where Miller excels. He’s also prolific on the edge, dissecting the every move of opposing offensive tackles and using it to his advantage.
“MillerLite,” as he labels himself, is hardly a nickname that accurately describes his assault on quarterbacks each Sunday, but as long as he’s producing, he can call himself whatever he wishes.