There are few signings the Buffalo Bills have made that drew as much unbridled enthusiasm as this offseason’s move to bring in Von Miller. A future Hall of Famer, Miller was viewed to be a missing piece for the Bills to get to the promised land. Knowing that a depleted secondary would need help up front, Buffalo unleashed Miller, letting him see a season-high play rate of 74% defensive snaps. Miller went on to record a dominant stat line of... one pass defended. That’s it. That’s literally his entire stat line from the game. What gives? Was Miller invisible like the stat line suggests? Or was something else going on?
Right out of the gate it appears that the Miami Dolphins have heard of Von Miller. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa gets the ball out incredibly quick to avoid the pass rush. At two seconds, Miller is beating the left tackle around the edge.
Wait...what was that? With the analysis team growing, we’re bouncing things off each other quite a bit. I liked how B.J. Monacelli used the obfuscate tool to highlight a player, and I’m officially swiping it. In Play 1 and to kick off this one, I have my old style to contrast the new. Unless you all hate it, I think it’s here to stay.
For the play, Miller extends his right arm to create distance and follows up with my favorite move, which is a quick pull when the opponent starts to lean forward. Offensive tackle Greg Little handles it relatively well and Miller can’t disengage entirely. Miller didn’t win ‘em all.
You can be effective without recording certain stats. I don’t believe this is the pass defended that was recorded (pretty sure that’s below in Play 7) but Miller 100% disrupts the throw.
Miller was on the field for Miami’s first touchdown. There’s not much to digest here, as the Dolphins scheme and execute a nice lane. Linebacker Matt Milano has a shot at stopping the run, but is held up a hair too long to make the tackle. Miller is part of the schemed clutter.
Here’s another look at Miller in run support and he gets close to being able to make a play. This looks like it’s schemed to deliberately allow Miller inside so he can’t contain from the edge. While it’s successful, my guess is that Miller is a little too close for comfort as he takes the given momentum and adds enough to nearly break loose in the backfield.
Overall I felt Little handled Miller better than his peers on the line. At two seconds Miller is coming free. Little has routed him far enough outside and behind that he’d need another second to hit home. The quick pass from Tagovailoa finds his man as the banged up secondary struggled to keep up.
I mean, this has to be the pass defended, right? Maybe he should have been credited with two. Like Play 5, this seems to be schemed to allow Miller free. I’m not sure whose bright idea that was, as he shows off excellent timing and reflexes to bat this ball.
Von Miller hesitates at the start of the play, and then has to go around the tight end. I didn’t time every single throw, but my money is on this being one of the longest durations Tagovailoa held onto the ball.
And here might be the longest he held onto it. With third and very long the Buffalo Bills rush only three and drop eight into coverage, which should allow double teams on, well pretty much every receiver. The running back stays in to block so it’s an eight-on-four situation. The three rushing, which includes Miller, are playing more contain. My guess is that this was deliberate as none of this looks like typical Miller. Theoretically this should have worked, but we know after the fact that it didn’t.
Right before the butt punt, Miller nearly got the safety himself. The Dolphins dial up a blitz beater, which again allows Miller to run free. Once again it was a bad idea.
Taking a look at the global stats for Miami’s offense, it’s safe to say that the defense did their job most of the day. Miami put up precisely league average points against the Buffalo defense, and that’s with a gift score following a Josh Allen fumble. I’m not asserting it was a dominant performance, but when half your starting roster is sidelined before the game and it only gets worse as the game goes on, I think “league average” is pretty good. ‘
While Miller didn’t show up so much on the stat sheet, he was a major factor in that pretty good performance. The Dolphins used quick-strike passes to take advantage of a secondary missing all four starters and Miller was still able to impact a handful of plays. In the run game, Miami often avoided Miller to attack the depth. Miller mostly did Miller things, but there were too many weaker links in the chain to exploit.