Buffalo Bills linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds stuffed the stat sheet in their wild card weekend win over the Miami Dolphins.
Milano recorded 10 total tackles with two sacks and three quarterback hits. Edmunds had five total tackles, one tackle for loss, and four defended passes.
We all know that Milano, or should I say “All-Pro Milano,” has had a great season — but Edmunds has also stood out of late, and seems to be playing the best football of his career. The Bills may have one of the best linebacker duos in the entire league. Let’s take an All-22 look into their success versus the Dolphins.
Stuffing the run
Milano ended up having a giant lane to run through to make the tackle, but this was because he stayed patient and read the blocks well. Edmunds came in later to the party because he was covering his responsibilities on the outside, but Milano and Edmunds met up in the backfield to stop the run.
It always helps when your defensive tackle eats up two blocks and frees up the linebackers in the run game.
Beating the cut block for a sack
Milano showed textbook form on how to beat a cut block on this play. He placed two hands on the back of the running back, and pushed him to the ground — all the while keeping his outside leg free and his inside leg back, so the RB had nothing to block. Then, to top it off, he still had the balance and quickness to get the sack. Milano is a freak athlete; what a play! Edmunds timed his delayed blitz perfectly after he realized the back was blocking, and helped finish the sack off.
Edmunds uses the hit stick
This hit got me out of my seat at the stadium. You could hear the impact from where I was. It was an awesome hit and gave everyone some energy, but it was more than a great hit. The most important part of this play was that Edmunds broke up the pass and got the Bills’ defense off the field on third down, which forced Miami to kick a field goal. Also, notice how Edmunds was aware that he had to go behind Milano so he didn’t interfere with his coverage. The Dolphins likely designed this play to “pick” linebackers with this route combination.
Pass break-up by Edmunds
Another impressive play in pass coverage by Edmunds. I like how he wasn’t panicked, he let the routes develop while getting himself into a good position, and then when the ball was thrown, he exploded to break up the pass.
Edmunds covers the seam route
Here’s Edmunds with another pass break-up. There seems to be a theme developing here. Very few players in this league get a finger on the ball as Edmunds did on this play. His length and athletic ability reign supreme. He had great depth, recognized the seam route being run behind him, and then hustled to get in position to make a play on the ball. Fantastic play!
Milano, the pass-rush specialist?
This type of skill on the pass rush makes me wonder if Milano wasn’t so amazing in coverage, and if he was used rushing the passer more often (a la Micah Parsons) — if he wouldn’t be one of the best pass rushers in the league. Milano made this guard look silly and recorded a sack.
Both Edmunds and Milano stayed disciplined in the midst of a scramble. They didn’t get lost in no-man's land staring at the quarterback; instead, they found someone to cover, and took away any possible throwing lanes.
Beating run blocks
Ed Oliver made a great play here, and was the one credited for the tackle. But if he had missed, Edmunds and Milano were right there, as well. Both of them read the play quickly, and effortlessly avoided their block to get to the ballcarrier.
Knowing their responsibilities
Once again, the quarterback was forced out of the pocket, and we see that the Bills’ defense stayed disciplined during the scramble. The most important part of a “scramble drill” is knowing your responsibilities and doing your job, not someone else's.
Edmunds knows that when the quarterback scrambles, receivers are taught to work toward the quarterback to find an open spot. So when the quarterback breaks the pocket, Edmunds’ job is to find someone to cover, and he did just that here. Milano knows he is the “contain man” if the quarterback breaks outside of the pocket, so he stayed patient and tracked the quarterback down as he approached the sideline, which forced a throw-away.
Working through traffic
Milano is a first team All-Pro for a reason. For this play, he worked around a bunch of traffic while keeping his eyes on the ball carrier, and then made the tackle to stop Miami short on a pivotal third down late in the game.
The Bills will need their defense to play well in the playoffs if they want to accomplish their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl, and it bodes well to have their starting linebackers playing at such a high level. Milano and Edmunds allow the Bills’ defense to be creative in coverage and in rushing the passer. They will need to continue being key playmakers for the defense going forward as they take on some high-powered offenses, starting with the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.