Can Von Miller burnish his legacy by leading the Buffalo Bills to their first Super Bowl?

ORCHARD PARK, NY – In the big moments, there’s a voice in Von Miller’s head. At the end of games when his team needs a game and everything is at stake.

In Super Bowl LVI last February at 3 with 1:25 left, the Los Angeles Rams defense needed a stop. All game long, Miller—then a Rams full-back—had primed the Cincinnati Bengals to use his ghost move on passing frenzy.

Finally it was time to unleash it.

“You can do this. You’re a pro. That’s what you were made for,” Miller likes to say to himself.

“It’s that voice in your head. I want to do everything I can to put myself in a good situation,” Miller said. “It’s all just positive talk because I did everything I could to do to be successful.”

Miller and defensive tackle Aaron Donald provided four sacks and 11 QB pressures in the Super Bowl win. Miller, who tied Charles Haley for most career sacks in Super Bowl history (4.5), thrived in the postseason when Los Angeles needed him most – his postseason pass rush win rate of 41, 5% was the highest by a player in a single postseason (with at least 30 pass rush games) since ESPN began tracking this metric in 2017.

The Rams wanted to bring Miller back this offseason, and listening to Miller describe his time with the Rams makes you wonder why he didn’t re-sign. Not only was producing on the field with Donald rewarding, Miller said he was rejuvenated by Los Angeles, a city that reflects his glowing personality.

“I played with one of the best defensive players that have ever played in this game [in Donald]and I consider myself one of the best defensive players in the game,” Miller said. “And I was put there to go there and win a Super Bowl.”

But there’s also the ultra-competitive part of him. When Miller was on the phone with his longtime Vanguard Sports agent Joby Branion and his father Von Miller Sr. on March 16, discussing the big decision of whether to join the Buffalo Bills as a free agent — his first big decision since deciding to Texas A&M, they reminded him — his father said the Bills gave Von a chance to do something no other player in NFL history has: Play and win three Super Bowls with three different franchises . He could also help give Buffalo a long-awaited first title on a team that already has top defense and a franchise quarterback. The Bills will take on Miller’s former Rams team in Thursday’s NFL season opener (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

“I wasn’t satisfied with where I was, I always wanted more,” Miller said. “This organization wants a Super Bowl. It’s a win-win for both parties and I just want to be a part of something special.”

The Bills have signed Miller to a six-year, $120 million deal, making an unusual leap into freehand to find the missing piece to get her over the hump after missing her target the last two seasons and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs both times. The Bills need a playoff-proven veteran who can lead on the field and play on time, but they also need a teacher who can set his teammates apart — and that’s what they have in Miller.

With so many pairings working for both sides, the pressure on Miller and the organization to finally get this full season off the ground couldn’t be greater.


SUPER BOWL RECRUITER have a few key components. The Bills took care of the franchise quarterback by drafting Josh Allen in 2018. He is the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least 100 passing touchdowns and 30 rushing touchdowns in his first four seasons.

While General Manager Brandon Beane’s team building continued, he tried to take care of the other missing areas, including the offensive line (extending Pro Bowl left tackle Dion Dawkins) and the wide receiver core (trading for Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs). ). The pass rush remained a problem despite high investments through the draft.

The Bills have used top draft picks against pass rushers Greg Rousseau (Rd. 1, 2021), AJ Epenesa (Rd. 2, 2020), and Boogie Basham (Rd. 2, 2021) over the past two years, but get nine sacks in total from the three. And last season’s top pass rusher Mario Addison (seven sacks) is now with the Houston Texans. No Bill has ended a season with double-digit sacks since Lorenzo Alexander (12.5) in 2016.

It wasn’t that the Bills were bad at the line of scrimmage — from 2017-21 Buffalo ranked fifth in pass rush win rate (47.8%) — it was the game-ending issue. During that stretch, the team with the Titans finished 20th in sacks (187).

That was evident as the Bills lost back-to-back seasons in the playoffs to the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, in part due to an inability to consistently press quarterback Patrick Mahomes when it mattered most (contacting 16.7% of throws overall ). .

In Miller, the Bills have a player who can directly affect the outcome of games and force teams to be accountable for him. As of 2017, the Bills have ranked 22nd in the fourth quarter (52).

Miller has the most fourth-quarter sacks in the regular season and postseason since 2011 (51).

“He’s one of those guys who can stop the game,” said defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “And we had some good rushers here and we played good defense, but to have a man in the fourth quarter when the game is at stake that can come up with that big game, that’s going to be huge for us.”

Miller is also the only player on the Bills roster to have a Super Bowl ring. He brings big game experience to the table but has also been a mentor to the younger pass rushers who have yet to develop.

“I’m an open book and I’m going to foist some of my chapters on them,” Miller said of Bills’ younger players. “I’m going to force some of the stuff I know on them. It’s just little things.”

During practice, Miller often explains why and how he performs certain movements, then expands on that discussion in the briefing rooms. “I told him once that I wanted to work on my attack angle and I want to work on that,” Epenesa said. “We get into the film room a few hours later and he sees that I worked on my attack angle in practice. And he turns around and he’s like, ‘AJ, that was a really good attack angle right there.’ …having him there and then not necessarily to review it but to like it, also to help teach things and give his opinion.

Prominent former Bills had lobbied for a differentiating defender like Miller. Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith, who played 19 seasons, including 15 for Buffalo, had hit the table — at GM Brandon Beane and coach Sean McDermott, and team owners Terry and Kim Pegula — to add a dynamic pass -Rusher who could change the outcome of those crucial games.

“I’ve been saying that for years. Years,” Smith said. “And even in the text chain I have with my teammates Jim Kelly, Thurman [Thomas] and Cornelius Bennett and Darryl Talley and Steve Tasker and some of the others, that’s the first thing I bring up and they repeat the same thing. We need this guy.”

At 33, Miller still believes he has many productive years ahead of him. He’s relied on speed and explosiveness, not power, to win at the line of scrimmage, which should help prolong his career. Of the top 21 sack leaders of all time, 15 have seen their sack production drop by 33 or more. But Chuck Smith, a pass rush coach and mentor who has known Miller for nearly a decade, isn’t worried.

“MOVES. moves. He’s got moves and they’re working in a five-yard range,” Smith said. “He doesn’t have to run a 4.2. He doesn’t have to be strong, he doesn’t have to be the greatest in the world. Von Miller’s secret is that he has powerful pass rush moves. “


BEING THAT FOR MILLER It was a big deal to be named one of the Bills’ four defensive captains in his first year with the team. While he hasn’t been to every OTA or been on the team for long, he made an impression. “Honestly, people say what they want to say, but I really value what my teammates say about me when I’m not there and I value what my opponents say about me when I’m not there,” Miller said . “People I compete against, the people I work with, I value their opinion. I care about what they say about me, my career and my legacy.”

Many players have more than three Super Bowl rings, and there are two three-ring players from three franchises who haven’t played in all games — linebacker Matt Millen and running back Kenjon Barner.

Millen said that three rings with three franchises was “meaningless” to him. For Miller, it’s about being first, about his legacy, about what people think when they hear Von Miller.

“How he’s remembered and what people say about him, what people say about him when he’s not around, that’s important to him,” said Tony Jerod-Eddie, Miller’s longtime friend.

Von’s Vision, his foundation that helps low-income students get eye care, is part of that legacy. So did his son Valor – Miller’s first child – who was born over a year ago. But it’s important to Miller that his son be proud of his dad when he grows up.

“That’s one of the greatest things about me and my retirement. I just want to get to a point where he can remember,” Miller said. “I’ll keep playing until God says the same or God says no or whatever it takes. But I think if I had my way I would play to a point where my kids remember I played complex and they know my teammates and the coaches. And then I can finish it.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34534779/can-von-miller-burnish-legacy-leading-buffalo-bills-their-first-super-bowl Can Von Miller burnish his legacy by leading the Buffalo Bills to their first Super Bowl?

Emma Bowman

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