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All-22 analysis: Matt Milano’s return

Well, the return of “fully healthy” Matt Milano at any rate

Yes, yes. Matt Milano was technically “back” prior to the AFC East Champion Buffalo Bills decimating the New England Patriots. However, he had been on a pitch count prior to the Monday Night Football game. With his first fully healthy game in awhile, let’s see how he did.


Play 1

We’ve been doing a lot of celebrating as of late, but let’s make this an honest look at Milano’s time on the field against New England. That means we’ll have a few plays where things don’t go so great for him. For this play Milano’s actions are fine based on what’s occurring. He’s moving with the run and doesn’t see there’s an obstacle in his path. If you watch this play several times, focus on a different player each time. The Bills were beat on this play, not just Matt Milano.

Play 2

I know what a lot of you are thinking: Why didn’t Tremaine Edmunds make the tackle? He’s a lot closer when the ball is in the air after all. That’s because Edmunds knows the situation. On 3rd-and-long it’s a near guarantee he’s supposed to park himself right where it’s at. Other defenders, like Matt Milano, are free to run in. I picked this particular play because it highlights the sideline-to-sideline speed that Milano possesses.

Play 3

I’m a big fan of watching plays that seemingly have nothing going on for the player under review. Milano is part of the pile and that’s about it. What I like about this is that he uses his hands to keep himself from getting tangled in the pile. If the ball carrier came his way he’d still have a shot at making the tackle.

Play 4

All people pretending to be analysts (like myself) have soapboxes. We all know I like Lee Smith more than anyone but his parents for instance. One dislike of mine is the “move Tremaine Edmunds” out of the middle linebacker spot argument. This is the second time I’m bringing up Edmunds because I don’t think you can fairly evaluate either apart from the other. The versatility they bring when they’re on the field together is phenomenal. And this is why I hate the “move Edmunds” talk. The Bills move him out of the middle linebacker spot frequently already and bring in Milano. When both are on the field what you think you’re seeing as a quarterback is never guaranteed.

Play 5

There’s not a ton to say about this play except that it’s exactly what you want out of your linebackers. When they’re clean, they’re working and finding the right spot.

Play 6

Above I said “when they’re clean.” You can’t always be clean and you can’t predict every play 100 percent. Matt Milano steps into the block and is pushed out of it. He recovers by shedding the block and racing to make the tackle. Even on an imperfect play, Milano is the type of player you love to see on the field.

Play 7

This looks like a negative play for Milano but let me convince you otherwise. We all know that if Stefon Diggs draws a double team it opens up another receiver. If Ed Oliver is being stopped by two blockers it opens a gap. Milano isn’t drawing a double team here but the effort it takes to move him out of the way means Shaq Mason cuts off the lane Milano was going to occupy anyway. It also means Mason is so far overextended that he has no shot at helping stop Quinton Jefferson either. At any time your opponent commits too many resources to stopping a single player, that’s a win.

Play 8

I had a request for this one and it was too good to pass up so here it is (sorry Matt Milano for making you share the spotlight).


Summary

In his first game back without a pitch count Matt Milano looked good. Really good. He didn’t win every snap but no one ever does. He did look fast. He was tackling without hesitation. He showed off good instincts and combined with Tremaine Edmunds to create some difficult reads for the Patriots. For a team looking to peak about now, the full return of Matt Milano is exciting news.