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Russell Wilson and the Seahawks didn’t see Von Miller coming until it was too late

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Miller stood head and shoulders above the rest to earn retired NFL defensive end Stephen White’s first Hoss of the Week.

Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images

On Sunday, I got caught up in the moment during the early games and boldly announced on Twitter that Myles Garrett was going to be my Hoss of the Week. He was in the midst of a dominant performance against the Steelers that, at the time, looked like it might propel the Browns to a huge upset win in their division to start off the season.

My proclamation was also partially because of a highlight that had just been shown on RedZone of a Browns player forcing another fumble near the end of overtime to give the Browns a chance to win. I saw a five on the jersey and erroneously assumed it was Garrett making yet another play. It was actually his teammate, rookie Genard Avery, who forced that fumble, and the Browns ended up having their ensuing field goal attempt blocked as time expired, leaving them with a tie instead of the W.

Garrett still had one hell of a day with two sacks and two caused fumbles, but it just so happens that it didn’t end up being the best performance of the weekend, so I have to go back on my tweet. I should’ve known better than to jump out there that early to crown Garrett when so many other games had yet to be played.

Von Miller could not wait to make me eat my words.

As good as Miller is — and there is no denying he’s all-world — as a former edge rusher myself, it can be frustrating at times to watch him because he makes everything look so easy. He does things on the field that would convince you he could make literally every play during a game if he really wanted to.

The truth is Miller picks his spots. He isn’t the guy hauling ass to jump on the pile every play trying to build up his assisted tackles. He is the guy lying in wait to strike at the most inopportune time for the opposing offense.

And his strikes tend to be devastating.

In the Broncos’ win over the Seahawks, Miller went whole drives where you wouldn’t even know he was on the field. But then, just when Seattle was lulled into a false sense of security, he would explode like a rattlesnake and wreck their offense.

What made Miller’s performance even more outstanding in this case was the prey he was hunting. Russell Wilson is one of the most elusive quarterbacks ever in the history of NFL. I have often marveled at his ability to make guys completely miss who seemingly had him dead to rights.

Just the threat of Wilson breaking containment and making a big play usually keeps defenses on their heels and forces pass rushers to play more timidly. So for Miller to take him down three times in a close game was an amazing feat in and of itself. Ironically enough, I’m not sure Wilson even saw Miller coming on any of them.

The cool thing is that we got to see Miller get to Wilson in three different ways.

It’s worth taking a look at all three sacks to examine how he got there.

On the first one, the Seahawks had a first-and-10 deep into Broncos territory, down, 10-17, with 3:39 left in the first half.

Miller was in his usual spot as the outside linebacker on the left side of the line, aligned outside of Seattle rookie tight end Will Dissly who was off the ball like a wing, in a nine technique.

On the snap Dissly went inside to make it look like he was run blocking, but it was actually a play-action pass. Miller came off and showed the Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi his hands as if he was going to bull rush him, but instead of actually engaging Ifedi, Miller stepped wide with his left leg at the last second and executed a quick rip move.

Ifedi, who had stopped his feet anticipating the bull rush, was left grasping at the air as he tumbled to the ground in a futile attempt to recover. Miller beat Ifedi so cleanly that he was on Wilson almost before Wilson was could even finish his drop back.

I’m not sure that Wilson ever even saw Miller coming, nor am I sure it would have mattered if he had. So quick was Miller’s acceleration from the point where he beat Ifedi, to getting into the quarterback’s chest, that the ever-elusive Wilson was a sitting duck on that play. Down he went for a loss of six yards. The Seahawks were effectively knocked out of field goal range.

Hiding and waiting to strike

After Seahawks rookie running back Rashaad Penny gained four yards on a catch on second down, the Seahawks were facing third-and-12 from the Denver 34-yard line with 2:21 left in the half. Miller was once again lined up as the left outside linebacker in a nine-technique.

This time Dissly dropped back as if he was going to pass block Miller for a couple of steps, then chucked him on his way out into his route to try to slow Miller’s rush. At the same time Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe, who was lined up as the three-technique to Miller’s side, shot upfield in the B gap between right guard J.R. Sweezy and Ifedi. Between Wolfe’s penetration in the B gap and Denver edge rusher Shaquil Barrett bull rushing Seattle left tackle Duane Brown back into Wilson’s lap, Wilson decided to step up to try to get away from the chaos around him.

Normally that would have been a good idea, but the problem for Wilson on this play was that because of Dissly’s bump-and-go, Miller was indeed late getting up the field, and hadn’t yet engaged with Ifedi at all.

In fact, Miller was free to run wherever he wanted to go because Ifedi was trying to help keep Wolfe from beating Sweezy. Wilson couldn’t see that Miller was just hanging around, sort of hiding behind Wolfe and waiting to strike. While he thought he was getting away from trouble, Wilson was actually putting himself in danger. He was so intent to finding someone open down the field that Miller was able to fall back inside and completely blindside him.

The hit forced the ball from Wilson’s clutches, but Seahawks left guard Ethan Pocic was able to recover the ball for what basically amounted to a gain of a yard. Because it was third down, however, Miller’s sack and caused fumble forced Seattle to try a field goal. They missed.


Remember, the score was 17-10 at that point.

Surprise, Miller’s here!

Miller’s third and final sack came with a little over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. This time the Seahawks were facing a third-and-3 from their own 43-yard line. Miller was again lined up as the left outside linebacker, but this time there was no tight end to deal with.

On the snap, Miller went with a straight speed rush and came screaming up the field. Ifedi was able to shoot his punch, but Miller went right into a rip move before Ifedi could get his hands on him. Miller already had a step on Ifedi. When Miller felt him trying to get full extension to try to grab him, Miller pulled his inside arm out of the rip move while he used his outside arm to swat Ifedi’s outside off of him.

The ninja-like quickness and precision of Miller’s move, along with Ifedi being fully extended, left Ifedi with nothing left to help hold him upright and he ended up eating a face full of Denver turf.

Because of the move, Miller took a little deeper route than normal around the corner. That isn’t usually a good thing, but on this play it meant he was once again out of Wilson’s view. That might not have mattered, except Wilson started running to his left away from Miller, out of instinct I guess. Because he didn’t realize how deep Miller already was, when Wilson tried his patented reverse out to try to elude Bradley Chubb to his left, when he turned around he had quite the surprise waiting on him.

By the time he could actually see Miller, Wilson was already being taken to the ground for a 13-yard loss. The Seahawks were down 27-24 at that point, and the score would remain that way through the final whistle.

Swooping in from behind

Now those three sacks might have been enough on their own to seal Miller’s Hoss this week, but the last play I want to highlight put him over the finish line.

With a little over eight minutes left in the third quarter, the Seahawks had second-and-3 from their own 33-yard line. Once again Miller was the left outside linebacker. This time Seattle decides to run a power O right at him. Seattle fullback Tre Madden was tasked with running at Miller and blocking him inside out, what is normally called a “kick out” block. Miller, however, decided he wasn’t really with the whole getting blocked thing on that play, so he simply side stepped Madden’s charge, like a matador without a cape. Madden’s momentum made him fall flat on his face.

I promise you, making a guy completely whiff is not supposed to look that easy.

That was part was aight, but what Miller did next was just flat out ridiculous!

The running back, Chris Carson, actually made it past the line of scrimmage on that run, and it appeared that he would get a nice little gain out of the play. But, just like Wilson earlier, Carson never saw Miller creeping up on him and that was a problem. The minute Carson’s progress was held up, ever so briefly, Miller swooped in from behind like a thief in the night and snatched the ball right out of Carson’s hands on some Debo shit. In one motion he turned around with Carson’s chain, oops I meant ball, and tried to take it to the house, too.

Miller didn’t get very far with his fumble return, but that was still just a fantastic play and one I would have a hard time believing if I hadn’t seen it. I actually give the Seahawks offensive players props for realizing Miller had the ball so quickly because otherwise he would have been off to the races.

If you are keeping score at home that was three sacks, two caused fumbles, a fumble recovery, and he had three more tackles and another pressure as well. On a weekend that saw quite a few dominant defensive performances, Miller’s stood head and shoulders above the rest.

For his efforts in a win over the Seahawks on Sunday, it is my pleasure to award Von Miller my Hoss of the Week Award for Week 1 of the 2018 regular season.

Somehow, I don’t think it will be his last this year.