AFC West Notes: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs



Broncos LB Von Miller embraced the expectations new HC Vic Fangio had for him in 2019. Despite being one of the NFL’s best defensive players, Fangio wanted Miller to take a step forward and run away with the defensive player of the year award. That didn’t happen, for a number of reasons, and after finishing with just eight sacks in a losing campaign, Miller has pledged to attack this offseason with a renewed gusto, including reuniting with trainer Frank Matrisciano.

“I’m getting back to basics,” Miller said via ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. “I’ll be ready. I want be better than ever, at 31. But yeah, I’ll go see Frank, probably more than once.”

  • The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala writes that while the Broncos interviewed now-49ers HC Kyle Shanahan for their head coaching vacancy in 2016, they were already locked in on Vance Joseph as the next head coach. 
  • The connections to legendary Broncos HC Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, weighed against the younger Shanahan, as not only would he have the shadow of his father’s legacy as a head coach in Denver, he would also have to deal with the fallout between Mike and members of the Broncos front office like CEO Joe Ellis and GM John Elway.
  • Another factor is that Kyle Shanahan would have likely wanted to start a rebuild and Elway, fresh off a Super Bowl win in Peyton Manning‘s last year, thought the team just needed a few tweaks. 
  • Per the Maven’s Rick Gosselin, the Broncos’ special teams unit finished 2019 ranked 21st in the league. 


Chargers DL Jerry Tillery started his rookie year playing catch-up, as a March surgery to repair a torn labrum caused him to miss the entire offseason and most of training camp. Tillery played sparingly and had a minimal impact for a first-round pick, with 17 total tackles and two sacks in 2019. However, the most important thing he showed the team was progress to end the season. 

“I think he was learning the game a little bit,” Chargers DC Gus Bradley said via ESPN’s Eric Williams. “Some of the things that maybe he got away with in college, he had to just adjust it. I give credit for [DL coach] Giff [Smith] for really sticking with it. There were the first couple of games where he got double-teamed and he was driven off the ball some yards. Giff really said, ‘No, that’s how he’s going to learn. He’ll learn by playing, not just watching.’ He would get him in sporadically. You could see him getting better.”

  • Per the Maven’s Rick Gosselin, the Chargers’ special teams unit finished 2019 ranked 22nd in the league. 
  • Oregon QB Justin Herbert is a potential target for the Chargers in the draft, according to Pro Football Network’s Benjamin Allbright


Relative to his production versus his price tag, Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins was one of the most overpaid wide receivers in the league in 2019. Watkins signed a deal worth $16 million per season in 2018, but finished 2019 with just 52 catches for 673 yards and three touchdowns — and a big chunk of that came from his 198-yard, three-touchdown season opener against the Jaguars. However, Watkins earned his money in Sunday’s AFC title game, leading the Chiefs with seven catches for 114 yards and the game-clinching touchdown. 

“You don’t make [major] moves to make the playoffs,” Chiefs GM Brett Veach said, via ESPN’s Adam Teicher. “We’ve been a playoff team for years, since we got here. We were in the playoffs [almost] every year. You make moves like that to put you over the top. Without Sammy’s performance today, who knows how this game would have turned out? I was happy for Sammy. He’s around a lot of talent, so sometimes he can’t show what he can do.”

  • Per the Maven’s Rick Gosselin, the Chiefs’ special teams unit finished 2019 ranked 6th in the league. 
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