Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller believes the team's offseason additions will offset the loss of defensive end Elvis Dumervil.
Speaking with the media on Thursday (via Andrew Mason on the Broncos' website), Miller said, "I feel like we have a way better team than we had last year," despite the loss of Dumervil, who was released by Denver and signed by the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent this offseason.
It wasn't meant as a dig at Dumervil, one of Miller's closest friends off the field; rather it was support for what the organization did in restocking the roster. In particular, signing former San Diego Chargers pass-rushing linebacker Shaun Phillips to a one-year deal in late April should help the defense to continue giving offenses more problems than just Miller. Miller also forged a friendship with Phillips prior to being drafted in 2011, as both players are represented by the same agency. And oh yeah, the Broncos signed wide receiver Wes Welker, the squiggling wideout with a nose for the first-down sticks and prolonging drives, a defense's best friend.
Defensively, Miller said that one player won't be able to make up for all of the disruptive qualities Dumervil possesses -- he had 11 sacks and six forced fumbles in 2012 -- but they have the depth to make up for it:
"There's no way you can replace what Elvis did for us production-wise. But I feel like if we all take a percentage of what we did -- so, if I step my game up 5 percent, Derek Wolfe steps his game up 5 percent, everybody just takes a little piece of what him leaving has taken from us -- I think we can definitely get it done."
Another factor that should help, as Mason notes in the report, is the return of defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Del Rio will be the first defensive coordinator to return for a second-consecutive season on the Denver sidelines since Larry Coyer's stint from 2003-06.
And Miller's production, after a stellar rookie campaign, reached new heights last season. He finished third in the NFL with 18.5 sacks, forced six fumbles of his own and broke up two passes in addition to an interception, which he returned 26 yards for a touchdown. Dumervil is a talented player to lose, but the Broncos appear to remain in good hands.