Woody Paige: Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Wade Phillips are back in the saddle again

Woody Paige: Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Wade Phillips are back in the saddle again
Posted at 9:33 PM, Sep 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-18 23:33:44-04

DENVER -- Von Miller, Aqib Talib and Wade Phillips are back in the saddle again.

It was like the good old days. Of 2015.

Miller caused a strip-sack that resulted in a touchdown and ensured the Broncos would win on Sunday. Feels like I just wrote that sentence. Actually, I did -- after Super Bowl 50.

Talib intercepted a pass and ran for a critical touchdown in the Broncos’ victory on Sunday. Feels like I’ve written that sentence before. Actually, I did -- after four previous games in 2014 and last season.

Phillips coached the defense brilliantly as the Broncos held their opponents to fewer than 21 points. Feels like I’ve written that sentence before. Actually, I did -- 13 times last season.

Déjà Von! A.T. I.N.T. The Wade Brigade.

The Broncos’ offense played acceptable in the 34-20 victory over the Colts on Sunday, but, as was the custom in the Super Bowl-winning season past, the defense was the difference. The Broncos’ defense accounted for two touchdowns and the offense one touchdown, and Brandon McManus kicked four field goals.

Feels as if I’ve written all that before.

Miller and Talib probably had the most unusual, and somewhat tumultuous, off-seasons. After being named the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl, Miler was franchised by the Broncos. Meanwhile, he was dancing with the stars, parading with the Disney characters, laughing with the network talk show hosts, appearing at every Von Venue, including the White House.

There was some uneasiness between Miller and John Elway, the master of all he sees with the Broncos. Miller wanted to be the highest-paid defensive player in history. Elway wanted Miller to settle for a bit less.  So Miller showed up anywhere except Broncos’ off-season workouts and minicamps.

In the end, Miller got what he wanted, and Elway got his Miller back.

And Miller has been back-to-back against Cam Newton and, now, Andrew Luck. Two games, four sacks, 11 tackles and a forced fumble.

After the fumble, Shane Ray picked up the ball and burst in for a touchdown that made the score 32-20 and made the Colts go away.

On the sideline, Talib poured a cup of Gatorade over Miller’s head.

Twelve minutes and 10 seconds earlier, Talib was doing his own celebration, intercepting Andrew Luck, avoiding a couple of tackles and racing for a touchdown that put the Broncos ahead to stay.

Talib had an interesting summer. In Dallas, where Talib always seems to be an incident waiting to happen, the Broncos’ cornerback was shot.  The bullet went into his thigh and exited from the same leg.  The assailant is unknown, except all of us kind of know who fired the shot.  It seemed as if Talib might be arrested by police authorities or suspended by NFL authorities. But nobody’s talking, and nothing’s happening, so far.

Talib didn’t practice early or often before the season.

But he’s back.

Sunday’s interception was the ninth of Talib’s career, in its ninth season, for a touchdown.

It was his interception, the most by any cornerback in the NFL from 2008-2016.

He’s a pick waiting to happen.

Miller and Talib are two of the nicest guys I’ve ever met with the Broncos, but they can get into trouble. Miller was suspended for drug issues, and Talib was suspended last year for a poking-in-an-eye issue.

And they can get the Broncos out of trouble.

There’s a reason Miller is the best outside linebacker in the league, and Talib is a top-five cornerback in the league. Perennial All-Pros and World Champions.

Then, there’s their coach. Phillips, one of the best defensive coordinators in NFL history, couldn’t steal a job two years ago. Last year, he was co-assistant coach of the year and the best tweeting coach in football.

Just consider this:

In his return to Denver, where he had been both a coordinator, and the head coach for two seasons between Dan Reeves and Mike Shanahan, the Broncos gave up 20 or fewer points last season to Baltimore (19), Detroit (12), Minnesota (20), Oakland (10), Green Bay (10), Chicago (15), San Diego (3), Oakland again (15), Cincinnati (17) and San Diego again (20). 

In the postseason, the Broncos held Pittsburgh to 16, New England to 18 and, at the Super Bowl, Carolina to 10.

Thirteen games out of 19, the Broncos’ defense was sensational, and Wade Phillips produced one of the greatest defenses ever to play in the NFL, and win a championship.

Phillips, Talib and Miller have returned, and they keep repeating the same actions, and I keep writing the same sentences.

The Broncos are riding high once more.


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