ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — He’s not saying it would be easy, but Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller has done the math, and he believes that one of the league’s elite pass-rushers could hit 30 sacks in one season.
“I think it is doable,” Miller said after Wednesday’s practice.
That is the tallest of orders for any player, even one of Miller’s ability, especially because no player has reached more than 22.5 sacks in a season since it became an official league statistic in 1982.
Hall of Famer Michael Strahan set the record with 22.5 sacks in 2001.
Miller’s best season thus far has been 18.5 sacks in 2012, his second in the league. Last season, when Miller saw an almost constant stream of double- and triple-teams, he finished with 13.5 sacks and was held without a sack over the last four games of the regular season. He has 73.5 sacks in his career.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said this week that Khalil Mack had set his goal at 30 sacks in a season. Mack won the league Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2016 by one vote over Miller, with 11.
“That’s the number I shoot for, but I didn’t want him to tell everybody else,” Mack said Saturday. “But at the same time, DC, he knows how hard we work, what kind of work we put in, and he knows what I want. But at the same time, realistically, we just want to get the record, at least.”
Mack was one of several of the league’s best pass-rushers who attended a pass-rush summit that Miller hosted in California this offseason. Miller said he hopes to expand the program every year.
In the big picture, Miller said the first month of the season would be key in any pursuit of 30 sacks.
“You’ve got to come out, you’ve got to get 10 in that first month,” Miller said. “You’ve got to get 10 in that first month, which is doable. You get two and a half, two and a half the next game and two and a half the next game after that. Then you might miss one game, and then you get two and a half, then you’ve got 10 in five games right there. Then if you go three, two, three, it’s definitely doable.”
Miller said any pass-rusher who piled up some sacks early in the season would then have to deal with the added attention as the weeks went by.
Last season Miller had five sacks in the Broncos’ first three games of the season, including a three-sack effort in Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts.
He went as far as to say such a record pursuit could come down to how a player did, or did not, make the most of limited opportunities.
“Teams are going to chip you, that’s definite, that’s just the gospel right there,” Miller said. “But you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities. If you get five open rushes, you’ve got to win all five of those rushes. Out of five you might get two or three sacks out of those, that’s the math that I have,” Miller said. “Out of all the rushes in the game, all of the plays in the game, out of those five plays, you’ve got to get home on those plays. It’s definitely doable.”