Wide-eyed and mindful, Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell checked off all the traits that make Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller one of the league's most feared pass rushers, an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and the biggest threat to blow up his game plan Saturday.
"Speed. Power. Quickness. Finesse. He's got it all," Caldwell said. "He is just an unbelievable performer."
Miller ranked third in the NFL during the regular season with 18.5 sacks as the Broncos tied for the league lead with 52. Miller led the Broncos with a team-high 86 pressures, according to Pro Football Focus, and tied Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake for the most in the NFL.
Miller did not sack Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco in Denver's 34-17 win in Week 15, but he led the charge as the Broncos harassed Flacco all afternoon. With an array of pass-rushing moves, Miller will be a tough matchup for offensive tackles Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher.
Miller, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds at the 2011 NFL combine, has the speed to blow by flat-footed offensive tackles. "He's got enough power to lean and bore and drive the protector back into the quarterback," Caldwell said. And with his excellent athleticism and flexibility, Miller is able to dip low to the ground under a block while getting around the edge.
"That's the thing, you can't have just one move, just one thing," center Matt Birk said. "You have to be fast and strong to be a dominant pass rusher, and he certainly is. He seems to be very intelligent, too. If the tackle oversets him, he goes inside. If the tackle undersets him, he tries to go outside. He doesn't predetermine his move before the snap.
"That, and he's very talented, which is probably why he has 114 sacks this year."