The race is on for 30 sacks.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr’s prediction (for the second year in a row) that Khalil Mack would register 30 sacks in a season seems to have touched off a legitimate discussion about the number between the two NFL players most capable of reaching that outrageous milestone.
Both Mack and Broncos pass rusher Von Miller talked about not only breaking Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks in a season, but beating it by 7.5 sacks.
“I think it is doable,” Miller said Wednesday, via ESPN.com.
“That’s the number I shoot for, but I didn’t want [Carr] to tell everybody else,” Mack told ESPN.com. “But at the same time, D.C., he knows how hard we work, what kind of work we put in, and he knows what I want.
“Realistically, we just want to get the record at least. At least.”
Miller seems to have it all worked out, game-by-game.
“You’ve got to come out, you’ve got to get 10 in that first month,” Miller said. “You’ve got to get 10 in that first month, which is doable. You get two and a half, two and a half the next game and two and a half the next game after that. Then you might miss one game, and then you get two and a half, then you’ve got 10 in five games right there. Then if you go three, two, three, it’s definitely doable.”
For reference, Miller topped out at 18.5 sacks back in 2012. Mack’s largest single-season number was 15.
While this is fun to talk about, it’s akin to a baseball player smashing Barry Bonds’ ridiculous single-season home run record. I’m being careful not to take anything away from Strahan’s accomplishments, but NFL quarterbacks get rid of the football faster and are blanketed by more sophisticated protection schemes than they were back in 2002.
However, one could also argue that the offensive line talent has declined since Strahan’s era and that the Giants defensive end faced more consistent talent across the board.
Either way, it would take one of the most creative efforts in the history of defensive coordinating to make this happen. It would also take an unusually healthy season for an every-down player.
That all being said, if anyone is going to do it, the safe money is on either Miller or Mack. Miller almost single-handedly destroyed the league’s best offense en route to a Super Bowl MVP award in 2015. Mack will soon be paid like the best defensive player in the league. Could either of them go down in NFL history as unquestionably the greatest?
Von Miller has anew mantra: What would Peyton do?
“I think Peyton Manning had an influence on us all,’’ Miller told Mike Klis of 9News. “. . .I put a quote on Instagram yesterday, ‘If you do what you love, you would never have to work a day in your life,’ and this is truly what I love to do. As the years add on you start to appreciate it a whole lot more. You’ve got young guys coming in that’s looking at you. You appreciate the way they look at you. You appreciate they leadership position they automatically put you in. So I just want to set a good example for everyone who comes out here.
“But at the same time, I want to be Von. I want to interact with everybody. Have fun. But at the end of the day I’ve got to do my job. It’s all square business when I’m out here on the field.”
Miller also has taken over Manning’s role as lead autograph signer. He signs every day at training camp, not just on his designated day, as Manning did.
Everyone wants something from Miller, as the Broncos’ best player, and he has delivered on and off the field.
“It’s the legacy aspect of it,’’ Miller said. “Whenever you’re gone, whenever it’s all said and done, what are they going to say about you? I’ve always kept that in mind, but this year, it’s year seven. I want to play 20. So I have to start taking advantage of the opportunity I have now. Peyton, DeMarcus [Ware], Brian Dawkins, Tim Tebow, all those guys set a great example for me to go out here and just put my own spin on it and be Von.’’