When grading a player’s season, the main factor is whether they met expectations. A player with high expectations for a season has less margin for error than a player with lower expectations. Broncos defenders Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. both had sky-high expectations at the beginning of 2018 but did they live up to them?
2018 Season Grades For Von Miller And Chris Harris Jr.
Coming into 2018, linebacker Von Miller was expected to decimate opposing linemen with his speed around the edge, especially considering the new addition of first-round pick Bradley Chubb. With Chubb soaking up some of the double teams that Miller had been subjected since the retirement of DeMarcus Ware, Miller was expected to be one of the top pass rushers in the league.
Miller ended up posting 14.5 sacks, his second-highest single-season total in his career and tied with Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter for 4th most in the league. Miller also earned four forced fumbles, tying him for 6th in the league. Finally, the pass rusher’s best highlight was an interception returned for 42 yards in a game against the Los Angeles Chargers. In the end, there were plenty of bright spots in Miller’s 2018.
While Miller produced at an extremely high level in 2018, he wasn’t perfect. His only true blemish was that he had a three-game stretch without a sack. The Broncos also lost all three of those games. Of course, Miller shouldn’t bear much of the blame for those losses but he is also not completely blameless either. Sacks are game-changing and if Miller had been able to produce a sack, it could have changed any of those games in a big way. It might seem ridiculous now but during the cold streak, some were beginning to wonder if father-time had come early to the Super Bowl 50 MVP.
Number 58 was one of the best pass rushers in football in 2018 as expected. However, one cannot have a perfect season with a three-game cold streak no matter the position.
Chris Harris Jr.
The Broncos needed Chris Harris Jr to be a lockdown cornerback in his first season without Aqib Talib since 2014. Did that come to fruition?
Pro Football Focus had Harris ranked as the third-best cornerback in the league. Harris suffocated his opposing receivers in three games, allowing under five fantasy points in each of those games. However, his most impressive feat was locking down Tyreek Hill. Harris held Hill to 4.8 fantasy points in Week 8 according to Player Profiler, a seemingly impossible achievement.
In the end, Harris played well when stacked up against the league’s best, refusing to be the reason on the field why Denver lost the game.
While Harris wasn’t the reason for Denver losing when he was on the field, his absence towards the end of the season hurt the team. Harris fractured his Fibula in Week 13 just when Denver was seemingly in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs. After Harris’ injury, Denver ended up losing every remaining game. The old cliché is that the best ability for any player is availability and Harris was unavailable during the most crucial part of 2018.
In the end, Chris Harris Jr. had a solid season as a number-one cornerback when he was healthy. Harris’ biggest failure was his absence during the most critical point of the season when Denver ended up going 0-4 and missing the playoffs. In the end, if not for the absence, Harris would have likely earned an “A” based on his performance throughout the season.