Despite entering the offseason with minimal salary cap space, Buffalo Bills General Manager Brandon Beane found a way to shock the NFL by signing future Hall of Fame edge rusher Von Miller to a six-year, $114 million deal. Buffalo already boasted one of the league’s deepest and most talented rosters, but the team desperately needed a game-changer on defense to help elevate the Bills from a fringe Super Bowl contender to outright favorites.
Miller, who is embarking on his 12th season at 33 years old, is not only one of the most feared and talented pass rushers in the game, but he’s a seasoned veteran – an eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl Champion – that has loads of experience and knowledge of what it takes to play at a high level and win championships.
Buffalo had their first day of training camp practices Sunday and Miller spoke to the media about his goals for the upcoming season, his role on defense, and the Bills’ new-look defensive line. The Texas A&M product is already embracing a leadership role – showing his new, young teammates Greg Rousseau, A.J. Epenesa and Boogie Basham the ropes at his Pass Rush Summit last month, and is looking forward to taking on a role as one of the many veteran mentors on the roster – but in his own way.
“I’m not a rah-rah, preachy, speech-ey type of guy, but if the situation arises where I need to speak up and talk, I’m going to talk,” Miller said. “All Super Bowl teams have similarities and success leaves clues. As long as we keep chipping away at it, I feel like we’ll be okay. Whenever I can interject some of my knowledge or some of my wisdom, or see something where I can put my two cents in, I’ll do it.”
One of those clues to success that Miller pointed out was the depth and talent along the championship defensive lines that he’s been a part of.
When he won the Super Bowl 50 MVP, Miller was surrounded by Demarcus Ware, Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson. Leonard Floyd and superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald rounded out the Rams’ defensive line that throttled Joe Burrow in the most recent Super Bowl. Miller sees a similarly talented group with Buffalo – particularly along the interior.
“Ed Oliver is a great player,” Miller said when asked about his thoughts on the defensive line group.
“I’ve always had a great three-technique on the inside – whether it’s Derek Wolfe or Aaron Donald and now here with Ed Oliver – I’ve always had help on the inside and I think it’s great to have guys like Ed Oliver, Jordan Phillips and DaQuan Jones helping me. It’s a big room, a lot of energy in there, so I’m excited.”
The Bills have relied on a steady defensive line rotation that keeps fresh, rolling waves of pass rushers on the field since Sean McDermott took over as head coach in 2017. But Miller has always been, and still wants to be a full-time player. Miller played 939 defensive snaps last season and hasn’t played fewer than 833 since 2015. For context, Oliver led all Buffalo defensive linemen with 698 defensive snaps in 2021.
It will be interesting to see how, and if, McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier alter their approach to the rotation, now that they have a true game-wrecking presence on defense in Von Miller, who will undoubtedly be difficult to take off the field.
However, while he hopes to see as much playing time as possible, Miller is aware that he’s a piece to a puzzle that’s already enjoying success.
— Air Raid | Training Camp (@TheBillsGuys) July 24, 2022
“Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to do it – But I like to be on the field,” said Miller. “You can’t make plays if you’re not on the field. I hate that feeling when I come off the field and the other team throws the ball or they make a big play down the field. I feel like I could have been in there to affect that. I’m going to try and be on the field as much as possible, but of course, I’m going to listen to the coaches, and the GM, they have a plan that obviously works. But I want to be on the field to make plays. That’s why they brought me here.”
Whether they’d like to admit it or not, the Bills are in Super Bowl-or-bust mode, and the outside pressure is nothing new, or scary to the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder.
“It’s been high expectations for a while,” Miller said when asked about Vegas having Buffalo as 2022’s Super Bowl favorites. “I saw the [Four Falls of Buffalo] documentary about the four Super Bowl losses and I just wanted to get myself familiar with Bills Mafa and Buffalo, and it’s been high expectations for a long time.
“Having expectations is a privilege. Pressure is a privilege. It’s a lot of pressure here in Buffalo but we want to take it one day at a time. We’ve got a great quarterback who’s going to help win us a lot of games.”