ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Von Miller's plan for the Denver Broncos' pass rush was a grand one this past season, one full of promise and hope. But it was a plan that took more than one shot in the chops.
The Broncos didn't have a sack in the first three games and stumbled to an 0-4 start. Second-year linebacker Bradley Chubb tore his ACL in Week 4, forcing first-year head coach Vic Fangio to significantly adjust the pass-rush strategy, given that Chubb was such a key piece.
Stack those blocks and you have the foundation for Miller's 2020 offseason. Miller plans to make multiple visits to Hell this season, as in to "Hell's Trainer" -- Frank Matrisciano, a California-based private trainer who works with many professional athletes. It is a trip Miller skipped last year, and the season that followed saw him finish with with eight sacks -- his first sub-10 sack season since 2013, when he missed six games with a suspension and tore his ACL in Week 16.
"I'm getting back to basics," Miller said.
"I'll be ready. I want be better than ever, at 31 [the age he will be in March]. But yeah, I'll go see Frank, probably more than once."
Just days after the Broncos 7-9 season finished -- the team's fourth consecutive playoff miss -- Miller had already kept his promise to do what he could to make sure 2020 would "be our year." Miller posted on social media his workouts with Matrisciano.
Miller has had a long, close relationship with Broncos strength and conditioning coach Loren Landow, a relationship that predates Landow's hiring by the Broncos. And Miller has always said Landow pushes him as hard as anyone can.
But for Miller, who has routinely said he hopes to play for "many more years," there is something about those workouts in the sand of the San Francisco Bay Area with Matrisciano in his ear. Miller did not make the pilgrimage last offseason, so just add that to the list of football things that didn't go the way he had hoped in 2019 and that he wants to change.
"This last offseason, I didn't get to hit it like that. I trained as hard as ever, but this time I'm going back to San Francisco to train, like I know how to train," Miller said.
"I just didn't have the opportunity to get back out there last year; that's on me. I want to get back on the sand, stairs and stuff -- mix high-intensity training with basic weight room training."
In a season when he was repeatedly battered by opposing blockers with Chubb and eventually Derek Wolfe on injured reserve, Miller still had enough good moments for his peers to vote him to his eighth Pro Bowl. But he had some frustrating moments, as well, and expressed disappointment with the team's growing pile of losses over the past three years.
During a 30-6 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, Miller's 127th NFL start, he took the only doughnut of his career. He finished without a sack, a quarterback hit or a tackle to his credit in the same game.
And in Week 15, after another loss to the Chiefs -- who are now Super Bowl-bound -- the usually uber-optimistic Miller announced that the team's play "defeats my soul."
"I don't have any problem with players that get frustrated because if they're not frustrated then it doesn't matter; but when they're frustrated, it does matter to them, and that's the key thing," Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway said of Miller. "You know what? He wasn't wrong in a lot of ways at that point in time ... and I think that Von still has a lot of football in him -- a lot. I would say that I think that he can still play better than he played this year. I would tell that to him in my office that I think you can play better. He cares about it."
Miller has joked that early in his career he took the "rock star" approach to training, saying, "I thought I could just show up and do what I do and all that." That changed after his struggles in 2013, and he has since made his training as much a part of his offseason travels as Instagram posts.
And Miller is already at it, working out with Matrisciano. Miller also is backing up his parting shots about losing -- "We done with this losing s---" -- as the Broncos adjourned for the offseason.
Miller explained why his optimism had returned and why it would make him head for the beaches and hills of San Francisco:
"Great quarterback, running back, receiver, [tight end] Noah Fant going to be in his second year, Chubb back, [safety Kareem Jackson] back ... next year is going to be our year. ... I'm going to train how I know how to train, do the stuff I've done in the past. I'll be ready."