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2020 All-22 analysis: Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano

A dive into the versatile linebacker’s latest season

The Buffalo Bills may be faced with some hard choices this year when it comes to roster building, with linebacker Matt Milano arguably topping the list. While these are usually dedicated to diving into whether a player will be missed or not, in the case of Milano it’s more of a “how much will he be missed” question. Let’s look at the 2020 season to see what Milano brings to the table.


Play 1

The linebackers shift with the offensive motion and Matt Milano ends up responsible for that end of the formation. What’s notable about this play is how quickly he identifies who actually has the ball and slips around. He doesn’t make the tackle but his speed and instincts are on display.

Play 2

A key skill for a linebacker is to keep himself clean from blocks to react to the play. Overall, Milano is quite good at this. For this play, he jams his hands forward to help control the point of impact. It’s enough to get free and sideways. He doesn’t make the tackle here either, though he does get a hand in there. Milano’s actions force the runner into a narrower lane where cleanup is easier for the rest of the team.

Play 3

The play paused to have you behold good gap integrity on the move. Milano cleans up Rodney Hudson while running and Josh Norman grabs an ankle from the ground to finish this run.

Play 4

The Bills are allowing some large cushions thanks to the down and distance. Both Milano and Tremaine Edmunds are in zone coverage and need to make a tackle before anyone gets past the line to gain. Milano juggles three players in his zone. The first two he passes off quickly. When he sees the one he sticks with is getting the ball, he closes quickly and shuts it down.

Play 5

One of the reasons Matt Milano is valuable to the Buffalo Bills’ defense is that he can contribute in any number of ways, helping confuse the opponent. The Bills show a fairly rare 4-3 look and use it as a blitz package. The Bills allow an easy blitz beater to the side, but focusing on Milano he weaves through a lot of clutter and gets a QB hit, nearly stopping the pass from happening.

Play 6

There are a lot of little things that go into playing the position well and here’s one of them. Matt Milano gets caught in the block. Rather than being stood up, he works to his left so he can still help contain the edge.

Play 7

This looks like Milano was asked to be in man coverage. The Colts are trying to create a pick. Matt Milano is able to navigate around and make the tackle after a minimal gain. Recognition and sideline-to-sideline speed make the play.

Play 8

This is a tough play to outright stop, but Matt Milano does a great job limiting it. His positioning helps keep the route from turning upfield to get the first and the immediate tackle (and near pass breakup) ensure they don’t get the first down.


Summary

The speed and reaction time Matt Milano displays are easy to see and provide a heck of a baseline for a player. Milano is decently stout at the point of attack and is usually a dependable tackler as well. Beyond these traits his versatility adds a lot of value to the Buffalo defense, able to line up effectively in a wide variety of spots. Milano and Tremaine Edmunds have also developed a lot of chemistry on the field. The ability to swap on the fly and confuse opposing offenses is not something every linebacker can replicate. If general manager Brandon Beane can make it happen, there’s little doubt Buffalo is better with Matt Milano on the team.

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