Created on Friday, 21 December 2012 Written by Jeff Schudel JSchudel@News-Herald.com
Here is the game plan for Brandon Weeden on pass plays Sunday in Denver:
Get the snap. Throw the ball. Duck for cover.
The Broncos are tied for second in the NFL with 42 sacks. Left outside linebacker Von Miller is third among individuals with 16 sacks. Right defensive end Elvis Dumervill is tied for 17th with nine.
"I'm not blocking them, thank God," Weeden said.
The team stat might be a little inflated because opponents are usually desperate and playing from behind in the fourth quarter, but there is no denying Miller and Dumervill have made offensive coordinator Brad Childress lose a little more hair.
It isn't like this is a one-time thing for the pair, either. Miller had 11 1/2 sacks as a rookie last year. Dumervill had 17 in 2009, missed 2010 on injured reserve and had 9 1/2 sacks last season.
"You better make provisions to double-team, chip, slide protections, fade a tight end and help your tackle every now and then because those two guys are something coming off the edges," Childress said Thursday. "I probably didn't have as great a feeling for how good they are and fast they are until I spent time watching film.
"They run a lot of people down. The people that don't get enough credit are those inside guys — those defensive tackles that are pushing the pocket."
Joe Thomas will block Dumervill. Miller will be rookie Mitchell Schwartz' responsibility most of the day.
Miller, 6-foot-3, 237 pounds, has his sights on Dumervill's team record 17 sacks and more. He wants to be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He has two more games to convince voters he deserves the honor more than J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers. Watt and Smith each have 19 1/2 sacks.
"It's great to be in that discussion but we still have a lot of time to go with two games left," Miller said in a conference call. "If it doesn't happen this year, God willing, I've got a lot more chances to get that.
"An individual award would be great, I can't sit here and say I don't want to get it. But our aspirations as a team — things don't always fall like this — are a lot bigger."
The Broncos (11-3) have won nine straight games. They believe Peyton Manning and their defense can take them to the Super Bowl.
Schwartz is trying to downplay an impending battle with Miller, whom Thomas says is the quickest linebacker in the NFL.
The Browns interviewed Miller before the 2011 draft, but there was almost zero chance he would fall to the sixth spot. The Broncos took him second and were rewarded when he was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"If he's not the best, he's very, very close," Schwartz said. "I just have to figure out what he's best at, and try to take away that. The thing with him is he's pretty good at everything he does, so it's kind of hard to hone in on one thing."
The Browns have allowed 26 sacks, which is tied for eighth-fewest in the league. They allowed a total of four sacks in two games to league-leading Cincinnati (43 sacks). After that, the next-highest team the Browns have faced among sack leaders is Buffalo and Dallas tied for 14th with 33 sacks.
Miller's success has almost allowed Dumervill (5-foot-11, 260 pounds) to fly under the radar. Almost. He is definitely on Thomas' radar.
Dumervill had Brady Quinn for lunch on Sept. 20. 2009, when, rushing from the Browns' right as an outside linebacker, he beat right tackle John St. Clair for four sacks.
"We have a lot of respect for the guys in Cincinnati and some of these other groups that have outstanding defensive ends, but when you're talking about 3-4 type outside linebackers that get after the quarterback, these guys are in the top tandems," Thomas said. "Dumervill is smaller height-wise, but he's fast and strong. He's a lot like (Steelers linebacker) James Harrison. He's a little shorter. He can get under your pads. He's got long arms. He's a relentless pass rusher."
The Browns allowed four sacks twice — in the 24-14 loss to Buffalo and in 20-14 victory over the Steelers.