It’s nothing new to say that the Bills have a great defense. Over the last 20 years (with exception of a couple of seasons) it’s what The Bills have been known for and yet it was not enough to get them to a Super Bowl. A staunch hard-hitting defensive line with a complimentary core of cornerbacks and some middling linebackers thrown in there for flavor. Defense wins championships have been the motto of the team for quite some time and that narrative has only recently changed with the addition of Josh Allen and his cannon arm.
To be clear it’s changed not because the defense has gotten worse but because the offense has gotten much better. With a top five offense over the last two years, it’s understandable why the defense has lost some of its recognition, especially after the notorious “13 seconds” debacle last season.
The Bills have made some moves this off-season to help keep the defense on point and shore up some of the weak spots. Veteran signings like Shaq Lawson, Jordan Phillips, and Tim Settle help bring some needed fresh (albeit familiar) blood but the biggest signing was LB/DE and Super Bowl MVP, Von Miller. Miller has been a perennial pro-bowler since entering the league in 2011 but now in his 11th year, the 33-year-old veteran is being called upon to help bring this defense to the next level. So just what kind of impact can we expect from him?
Super Bowl Experience
Miller has this in spades and is the main reason why the Bills broke the bank to bring him on board. In his 11 years as a player, he’s been in the pro-bowl eight times, won 2 Super Bowls, was a Superbowl MVP, Defensive Rookie of the Year, and on the list of the 2010s All-Decade Team. He’s also amassed over 500 tackles and 100 sacks and an interception and fumble recovery as well.
Miller brings years of veteran experience and knowledge to the Bills and its effects are already starting to show. Since 2017 Miller has been hosting a “Pass Rushing Summit” in Las Vegas and invited all defensive ends and pass rushing linebackers in to join and hone their skills. Most notably this year Greg Rousseau, AJ Epenesa, and Boogie Basham all elected to go to the summit and learn from Miller.
It isn’t just players from the summit that are taking in the veteran knowledge. Jordan Phillips recently said, “He’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP, whatever he says you listen to it.” Miller garners respect from teammates wherever he goes, and Buffalo is no exception. We can expect everyone on the line and linebacking core to step up this year and show off some of what Von Miller has taught them.
Still Some Gas In The Tank
While it’s true that he is getting up in years the good news is that the longevity of the Edge position has always been long-lived. All-time greats such as Reggie White, Julius Peppers, and Michael Strahan all put up great numbers well into the latter years of their career. Heck, Bills’ favorite and superstar Bruce Smith recorded 9 sacks in 2002 when he was 39 and that wasn’t even his last year playing. This is partly because edge rushers can be brought in on special downs and rotated between other starters to keep them fresh.
Additionally, there’s no reason to think at 33 that Von Miller has lost a step. He just came off a Super bowl winning season where he recorded 9.5 sacks while playing for two different teams (13 if you include the four sacks, he made during the postseason). He’s a clutch player whose ability to make game-changing plays constantly requires the offense to consider his presence. In short, if teams already were apprehensive about facing the Bills’ defense, Miller being on the field will only exacerbate that.
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