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Published on 11/21/2012 at Wed Nov 21 08:12.
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(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

As the regular season winds down, three main candidates have emerged in the Defensive Player of the Year race—Houston’s J.J. Watt, San Francisco’s Aldon Smith, and Denver’s Von Miller.

On Monday, Smith recorded 5.5 sacks against Chicago’s garbage offensive line and passed Miller as the league’s current sack leader (15-to-13). After the game, Smith was quick to inform Miller that he had passed him.

With this being the case, and after Smith recorded more sacks than Miller in 2011 (14-to-11.5), a great debate has emerged:  Who is the better player?

I recently touched on this subject in my latest article over at B/R.  Let’s take a quick look at both Miller and Smith after the jump. 

Miller is a more complete player and has single-handedly caused more havoc to opposing offenses than Smith has over the past two seasons.

Smith, similarly to Houston’s J.J. Watt, has one main job—rush the quarterback.  In most of San Francisco’s defensive schemes, Smith has his hand on the ground, preparing to rush the quarterback.

Rushing the quarterback is his job, and he has done a heck of a job, notching 31 sacks over the past two seasons.  Smith deserves recognition for his pass-rushing abilities, but the reason Miller won DRoY is simple—he is no one-trick pony.

Miller is asked to do far more than simply rush the quarterback week in and week out.  Rather, Miller is Denver’s “Sam”—strongside outside linebacker—in the Broncos’ 4-3 defense.

A disruptive force, Miller has notched 44 tackles for losses over the past two seasons, which is more than any other player in the NFL during that time period (for comparisons’ sake, Smith recorded 28 during the same time frame).

Miller is an outside linebacker that does a fantastic job of getting to the quarterback when he is asked to do so.  Smith, on the other hand, is listed as an outside linebacker, but from what I saw from Monday’s game, he rarely leaves a three-point stance—playing like a defensive end, rushing on every play I was able to observe.

Against the run, Miller and Smith are not even comparable.  Miller has been phenomenal, especially this season, at bringing down running backs in the backfield.

So, we are not yet ready to concede that Smith is a better pass rusher than Miller.  He merely gets more opportunities to rush the quarterback.

  • Aaron McFarland

    I would be happy having either player, since both have been a success(I am still happier we have Von Miller, though).

  • Adrian diaz

    Both r great players i agree tho people need to stop pretending Smith is a linebacker hes a DE an amazing one at that but miller is a one man wrecking crew who will get sacks even being double teamed by a guard and center that means he will line up anywhere and blitz from everywhere and I havent even mentioned hes a 4-3 backer which means hes an everydown backer. Props to smith great amazing DE i wish some how he could end up in Denver with Miller but Miller is far and away more complete. Watt needs Brian Cushing to much hell fade out of the conversation in a few weeks

  • TheTroglodyte

    Just look at the TFL. Miller is about to set an NFL record that will never be touched.

  • Bryan

    Both are no doubt great players. Aldon Smith plays on a great defense and benefits from having Willis, and Justin Smith there. Von Miller makes this defense great and everyone benefits from having him on the field.

  • Gary_in_SD

    The season isn’t over yet and Von Miller has to be licking his chops at the remaining Denver schedule.