ENGLEWOOD — Von Miller without sacks? It's like peanut butter without jelly. It's like Han Solo without Chewbacca. It's Tuesday without tacos. Von Miller is losing games and losing sleep after the slowest start of his career.
"Slumps, they come. I haven't had one like this at the start of the season before, though," Miller said Thursday. "We have to keep playing, keep fighting, and plan for the breakthrough. It's like blackjack. You have to double down. We are practicing well, we are doing all the right things. Sacks come in bunches. This would be a good week to get it going in Lambeau."
The Broncos have never won in Green Bay. They haven't won a game since Dec. 2, period. The streak spans six games. For it to change, or for the team to look like it has some energy, the Broncos need Miller to create havoc. Von without sacks is like a baseball team without hits. It looks like the group has no energy. The Broncos feed off Von. And right now there's nothing to eat.
"I am sure he lets you guys, and everybody else and himself get into his head a little bit," coach Vic Fangio said when I asked him if he sensed Miller's frustration. "I have talked to him about that. Hopefully, he listens to me more than the thousands of others. I tell him the facts, the way the games have gone."
I asked Fangio if he considered tweaking the scheme early to produce a sack. The coach explained that it's not really feasible if the team is in base defense on first and second down. Heck, how about sending Von to Von's to sack some groceries to build his confidence?
Regardless, it has been a different path to back-to-back defeats. The Broncos faced quarterbacks who released the ball quickly, and afforded few opportunities to sack. Denver has struggled to stop the run, allowing 125.5 yards on 29 attempts per game. That said, this weekend offers a potential opening. No defense loves facing future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers. However, he is willing to extend plays and will take sacks before throwing picks. He has been sacked seven times in two games.
"They are collapsing the pocket on him. Aaron Rodgers is one of those guys who likes to let plays develop," linebacker Bradley Chubb said. "Our main goal is to keep him pocket and have the coverage to allow us to get there for the sack."
Fangio admitted he still has "a lot" of patience with struggling left tackle Garett Bolles. He said he talked with Bolles this week and that offensive line coach Mike Munchak spoke extensively with him. The penalties are unacceptable – 26 in 34 games. However, the Broncos have limited options to replace Bolles until Ja'Wuan James is healthy. .... Receiver Courtland Sutton was limited in practice with sore ribs. ... Todd Davis expects to start on Sunday and plans "to bring energy to get us going." ... It's unlikely cornerback Bryce Callahan plays because of the nagging foot injury. And Andy Janovich and Joe Jones will not play this week. ... The Broncos offense is not clicking, but some of the conservative nature was by design. "We didn't have a turnover for 7-and-a-half quarters and we needed to go eight," offensive boss Rich Scangarello said. "We have to play complementary football and be better in the red zone. We need results.”