In football, it's much more difficult for the loss of one player (quarterback being the exception to the rule) to completely change a team for the bad, especially when he's absent for just four games.
So this one's for you, Denver Broncos fan currently huddled up shaking in the corner. The potential loss of superstar linebacker/defensive end/pass-rusher/electrician/probably everything else Von Miller won't cripple your season.
Early Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the depressing news:
Broncos LB Von Miller is facing 4-game suspension for violating NFL policy, per ESPN sources. Case currently in appeals process.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 22, 2013
Of course, it's not unheard of for an appeal to be won, and Miller himself is certainly positive about his outlook. But for now, let's assume the worst-case scenario.
Let's assume Miller is suspended for the first four games of the regular season.
And let's not sugarcoat it. Losing Miller is painful.
After just two seasons in the NFL, he has already racked up 133 combined tackles, 30.0 (!) sacks and nine forced fumbles.
Already one of the most dangerous and unblockable pass-rushers in the entire NFL, it's clear that at just 24 years of age, he is still getting better. Just look at his immense improvement following his 2011 Rookie of the Year campaign:
|Year||G||GS||Sacks||Forced Fumbles||Combined Tackles|
And that's a scary thought, at least for opposing linemen and quarterbacks.
To make this news worse, the offseason loss of Elvis Dumervil (due to "fax-gate"), who compiled 11.0 sacks last year, makes Miller even less expendable.
In fact, NFL.com's Adam Schein recently called Miller the third-most indispensable player in the NFL, saying that if something happened to him, "Peyton Manning and the Broncos have no chance of making the Super Bowl."
Schein is obviously implying something more than a four-game absence, but Miller's worth is obvious.
Still, much like Gloria Gaynor, the Broncos will survive.
Let's not forget, although it was upset in the divisional round, this is a team that went 13-3 last year. And it's added (another) elite pass-catcher in Wes Welker, improved the depth in the secondary with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Quentin Jammer and rookie Kayvon Webster, and overall, improved across the field.
If Miller is out, how many games will the Broncos win out of their first four?
Losing Miller hurts, yes, but getting through that stretch at 2-2 when you have arguably the best offensive arsenal in the league—Manning, Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, oh my!—is quite feasible.
And considering the Broncos are a part of the worst division in football, returning Miller to a 2-2 squad is a recipe for the postseason.
Although things may look bleak right now, the Broncos have the depth, surrounding talent, optimal schedule and soft division to cushion this seemingly devastating blow.