Bruce Irvin once told me, “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.” Apparently that’s not just the case for teammates, but also your opponents. That’s why Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller held an official summit this summer, exclusively for other top pass rushers around the NFL. Among those there: Seattle Seahawks’ own Cliff Avril.
Miller spoke openly with the Denver Post about the benefits of talking shop with others who know exactly what you’re going through in trying to bring down the quarterback.
“A sack is a sack. I’m going to get sacks, they’re going to get sacks,” Miller said. “You really can’t stop that. You really benefit more from really just sharing that knowledge and just trying to be the best players that you can possibly be. I remember Justin Houston, two years ago when he had 22 sacks, he had a little jab-step swipe with double hands and he went off with that move. Watching film and asking him about that move and that was one of my moves back then as well.
“It’s a copycat league, if it works people will do it. It’s just a small community of pass rushers that speak the same language. I can’t go in there and talk pass rush moves with ‘B-Marsh’ (inside linebacker Brandon Marshall). It’s me and DeMarcus, Shaq (Barrett) and Shane that really get the benefit of that. It’s a beautiful thing to be a pass rusher in the National Football League.”
Miller said that even him and Melvin Ingram (of his AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers) are close and speak often about technique and how to make each other better. There’s a clear appreciation on the part of Miller for anyone else who can succeed at taking down the QB at the highest level. And if there’s one person at the summit who could teach Miller and the rest of the crew at the summit a thing or two about how he gets so many strip-sacks, it’s Avril.
A first-time Pro Bowler in 2016, Avril had 11.5 sacks and forced five fumbles. Avril has forced 30 fumbles since entering the NFL in 2008 with the Detroit Lions, an average of 3.33 per season, the exact same rate the Miller has since he was drafted in 2011. And Miller could also help Avril get to the quarterback more often: Avril has 73 career sacks in nine seasons, compared to 73.5 by Miller in six.
Avril also has 32 batted passes in his career, including 19 in four years with the Seahawks. Miller has 13 batted passes in his six seasons with the Broncos. It’s worth noting that Miller makes $19 million a year, compared to $7.1 million for Avril.
Also at the summit was Seattle teammate Cassius Marsh.
I just learned so much in 4 hours it's crazy! Thanks for inviting me big bro! @VonMiller— Cassius Marsh (@KingCash_7191) June 29, 2017
It’s a bit of a surprising addition, as Marsh has just three career sacks, all of which came last season. He is only a part-time player on the Seahawks defense, but an exceptional special teamer. That being said, Marsh has flashed the ability to be a regular on defense and since he is entering a contract year it will be interesting to see how Pete Carroll uses him in 2017. If he gets a lot of run, he could price himself out of Seattle, where they are already having to think about paying Avril, Michael Bennett, and eventually, Frank Clark. The fact that Marsh was invited and not Clark is a little interesting; it could have been a character thing, it could be totally unrelated and just the fact that there were only so many spots, but it’s nice to see Marsh get a boost.
Also noted as being in attendance were Khalil Mack, DeMarcus Ware (retired), Vic Beasley, Malik Jackson, rookie Solomon Thomas, Shane Ray, Arik Armstead, Olivier Vernon, and Dee Ford.