By Zack Kelberman
(247 SPORTS) – Good as he is, Von Miller isn’t above reproach.
Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph demonstrated that reality Sunday, taking issue with the outside linebacker for his excessive offsides penalties in Denver’s 20-14 loss to the hapless San Francisco 49ers.
“Absolutely, stop guessing,” Joseph said. “It’s simple as that. You can’t do that. That kept the drive alive and they got a touchdown at the half. That drive, we had three or four penalties. It’s undisciplined, we can’t do it and it cost us.”
Miller is perhaps the NFL’s best at timing snap counts. His jumps on the line of scrimmage are well documented and have became part of his pass-rushing arsenal. Most of the time, he beats a lineman so bad you assume he was offsides.
Problem is, he actually was offsides against the 49ers, thrice called for neutral zone infractions in the first half. His last offense earned him a temporary benching; Joseph briefly pulled him out of the game. CBS cameras also caught Joseph presumably critiquing the superstar linebacker.
In discussing the crushing defeat, which essentially torpedoed 6-7 Denver’s playoff hopes, Miller was surprisingly candid. There were no jokes or “on to Cincinnati” gags. He confirmed what most fans saw, that the team appeared listless throughout the afternoon, while ripping himself for the pre-snap penalties.
“I don’t know. We just relaxed I guess,” Miller said. “We didn’t come out swinging in the second half. We just, I don’t know. We just aren’t playing. The San Francisco 49ers, they’re a talented team. They played well today. They beat us today. For me personally, three false starts in the first half is just flat out ridiculous. I’m a gambling man and I broke today. I broke today. I put my team in a horrible situation, very undisciplined and guessing around, but in the end it ended up hurting us and that’s on me.”
He explained that his risky habit is often dictated by the scoreboard, with the club falling behind or in need of a spark. Denver trailed 20-0 at halftime.
“Yeah, just trying to get a jump to make a play, especially after the first two,” Miller said. “You know, I’m thinking if the first two are hard counts I’m thinking then I’ll do it a third time, and it did. I guess I’ll head back to the lab. We’ve been counted out before. I’ve been counted out before and being in this situation as a team it’s nothing new to us. So, get back in the lab and work towards the Cleveland Browns.”
It wasn’t all bad for Miller, who sacked San Francisco quarterback Nick Mullens, pushing his season total to 12.5 and tying Simon Fletcher for most career sacks (103.5) in Broncos history, including the postseason.
That — and also Bradley Chubb besting Miller’s franchise rookie sack record (11.5) — Joseph will sing his praises for.
“They’ve played good all year so I’m not surprised,” he said. “Obviously, those records are important to those players. They work hard for those numbers. But obviously, with the game, it takes the sting away a little bit.”