Broncos linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb combined for 26.5 sacks last season, a feat made even more impressive by the fact Chubb was a rookie. Improvement is naturally expected from Chubb, but new HC Vic Fangio says he thinks Miller has more room to grow, too.
“We’re going to try to take them both to bigger and better levels,” Fangio said via the Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala. “I think Von Miller can play even better than he’s played in his career.”
Both Miller and Chubb will play key roles in Fangio’s defense, not just rushing the passer, but stopping the run and even dropping into coverage occasionally. Fangio led last year’s No. 1 defense with the Bears and the Denver duo will play similar roles to Chicago’s Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd.
“We like to move our outside linebackers to different locations within the packages and that was something we were able to do with Khalil and Leonard last year,” said outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley, who was in the same role with Fangio in Chicago the last two years. “I think that gives offenses a lot to prepare for. They can’t say this guy is going to be in the same place every single time. Both Bradley and Von can do all of the jobs that an outside linebacker needs to do. Certainly, they can rush the passer, but they’re very, very dominant in the run game and tremendously athletic in pass coverage. They won’t be dropping very much, but it’s something we can take advantage of. When we do call it, they can do it well.”
The Colts initially saw second-rounder Ben Banogu as a linebacker. But after seeing him in rookie minicamp, the Colts moved Banogu to defensive end for the rest of OTA’s.
“We thought that moving (Banogu) now to play end is probably the best starting point for him relative to who he is, what he brings to the table and where can he impact our defense the most, the earliest,” Colts DC Matt Eberflus said via 1070TheFan’s Kevin Bowen. “We looked at him a little bit in drill work (at linebacker). We kept looking at him. We put all of our heads together, it was the whole defensive staff. It was Chris (Ballard). It was Frank (Reich). Then we decided, ‘Hey, let’s put him here (at defensive end) and then we can build it from there.’ Can he do different things and put him in different spots? No question he can do that. But let’s get his feet on solid ground at one spot and then kind of develop him from there.”
- NBC Sports’ Scott Bair writes that a big season from Raiders first-round DE Clelin Ferrell with nine or more sacks would go a long way toward solidifying Oakland’s defensive line.
- Conversely, if Ferrell struggles to be a contributor, Oakland might have trouble topping even the league-low 13 sacks it recorded in 2013.