In case you haven’t heard, this Matt Milano guy has been playing the ol’ linebacker position pretty darn well for the Buffalo Bills. After about a year of splitting snaps with Ramon Humber, Milano was on the field for all but one play against the Tennessee Titans. This will hopefully become a pattern. Milano wasn’t perfect against the Titans, but he maintained a high level of play with his increased role. Let’s over-analyze some highlights.
The Bills frequently have Matt Milano around the line of scrimmage to bring some extra heat, or at least the illusion of it. One key to the success of the defense against the Titans and recent weeks is the willingness to sell out for the anticipated play call. Both things harmonize on this play. As Marcus Mariota is all alone in the backfield, Milano creeps up from his spot in the middle to become an edge rusher. The linemen are aligned wide as they sell out to stop the pass. Milano’s quick pressure forces an incompletion and the Bills are off to a great start.
If this play looks familiar, it was used in the Taron Johnson analysis from this week. Here we highlight Milano’s piece of the puzzle. As the slot receiver moves across the formation he leaves a sizable gap off the tackle. Milano slides over and shows blitz, which has already pressured Mariota into one bad pass. Even with the running back staying in to block, this would put the Titans at a disadvantage. Milano actually falls into coverage but the uncertainty on what Milano is doing on any given snap has begun.
Milano made some really nice tackles in this game and it’d be easy to have a strict highlight reel. This play was selected to show a little of the Devil in the details. The, ahem, blatant hold on Milano pairs nicely with the lineman’s position. Milano is at risk of being tossed to the turf as a result. However, as he’s being shoved he twists his body weight to fall into the running lane and shut the play down. This isn’t a textbook tackle by any means, but the MacGyver strategy works.
Harrison Phillips takes up two blockers in the middle of the line while Kyle Williams occupies the third interior lineman. This leaves a nice gap for Matt Milano to occupy. Milano steps up and puts himself in place to help Phillips out if necessary and jump in front of the runner if he goes left. As a result of the work put in by all three, Milano shuts the run down.
Ben Jones pulls to his left to block for this run. He finds Matt Milano and looks to be winning the match-up. As Dion Lewis runs for the edge, Milano shoves off of the block from Jones and accelerates into Lewis to help make the tackle.
Individual victories pretty much across the board set up a near disaster for the Titans. Kyle Williams and Star Lotulelei beat the three interior offensive linemen. The pair create a large gap that the running back gets funneled into. Lorenzo Alexander come clean into the gap and is ready to make a play. As quickly as he gets there though, Alexander is beaten to the tackle by Jerry Hughes from the edge and Matt Milano. In Milano’s case, he weaves through the traffic and bursts into the back. Williams has also shed his block and the running black is blanketed.