THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – When it was announced that Von Miller was being traded to the Los Angeles Rams, the news felt like a takeover was about to happen like there had been a major shift in the power play of the National Football League. You just don’t stumble on a franchise-making player like Miller.
The Rams didn’t stumble or bumble their way unto Miller. They went after the eight-time Pro Bowler and pushed their Super Bowl aspirations up a couple of notches. Some teams stay put during the NFL trade deadline.
The Rams are not messing around when it comes to doing what it takes to enhance their possibilities of making it to the Super Bowl, which will be played in 2022 at SoFi Stadium. So they made sure they didn’t stay pat with the league’s trade deadline and dropped the blockbuster news of getting rid of a couple of 2022 draft picks for Miller.
Two big trades have shaped the Rams’ destination this season. First, it was the Matthew Stafford deal that brought the former Detroit Lions quarterback to Southern California. Now, it’s Miller time. The NFC West Division and the Super Bowl betting line just tilted in the Rams’ favor with the team’s acquisition of the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
“The biggest thing is just they’ve got a plan,” said Stafford. “It’s not just throwing paint on the wall and hoping it works out for them. They’ve got a plan. They know what they want in players and culture and all that kind of stuff. And sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, just like everybody.
Stafford continued, “That’s draft picks. Everybody that accrues a bunch of draft picks, sometimes those work, sometimes they don’t. So, these guys are a really well thought out group, know what fits in this team, both schematically and culturally, and then we just go for it.”
Rams head coach Sean McVay said there’s a lot of buzz about Miller now being part of the team.
“Big welcome,” McVay said. “There was a lot of excitement and I think a lot of these guys know each other just based on what a premier player Von’s been. And we’ve got some of those guys as well where they’ve kind of crossed over at Pro Bowls or other sort of functions. So, guys are very excited to be able to welcome Von with open arms and we’re excited about it as well as.”
Miller made his first appearance with his new team on Wednesday. As the team prepares to play the Tennessee Titans in a Sunday Night Football matchup, Miller participated in a few drills. And for the first time, Miller spoke officially as a Los Angeles Ram.
After spending the first 11 years of his career wearing a Bronco uniform, being somewhere outside of Denver seemed to surreal to him, Miller said.
“It’s different,” Miller remarked. “It feels like a movie. From coming into work on Monday and I was in a training room, and they said that (Broncos General Manager) George (Paton) wanted to talk to me. I’ve been in league 11 years, so I already knew what this talk was going to be about. Initially, it hurt. I’ve been saying it kind of felt like removing a splinter. At first, it hurts, it hurts bad. I’ve been there for 11 years.
Surreal pic.twitter.com/gPhOE1RZCD— Von Miller (@VonMiller) November 4, 2021
“I don’t know anything else. I was a Denver Bronco,” Miller added. “They told me that I was getting traded to the Rams. (It) hurts. (I) had all my goodbyes. Looking at my house, looking at all the memories that I had there throughout 11 years, it was tough. When I took off Tuesday morning, though, I had a nice view of the mountains and I told myself like, ‘Hey, taking off a Denver Bronco. When I land, I’m a Los Angeles Ram.’”
So, the obvious question is what kind of player will the Rams be getting in Miller? An ankle injury forced him to have surgery and sit out all of the 2020 season. Is Miller damaged goods? The Rams don’t think so or they would not have traded for him.
Another viable question is can Miller still get after the quarterback the same way that made him the MVP of Super Bowl 50 when Denver took down Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers? A trade for a player like Miller, 11 seasons into his NFL career, would suggest that answer to be yes.
And that leads to other questions. What are the realistic expectations that McVay and general manager Les Snead have of Miller? What are Miller’s expectations in trying to fit in a defense that already has top edge rushers in Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd? Is Miller the same player who has recorded 110 sacks throughout his career as one of the most feared edge rushers in the history of the National Football League?
What is certain is that with Miller, quarterbacks who have to go against this Rams defense won’t have the luxury of just seeing one premier pass rusher being double-teamed. That’s now being tossed to the wind.
“It just puts you on the clock that much more,” Stafford said. “I know our defensive coaches will find creative ways to scheme those guys up to try to create one-on-ones and create headaches in the pass protection stuff for offenses. So, I know those guys are going to enjoy playing off of each other, I know that. Whoever gets a single (man matchup) is going to be expected to win. I know they’re going to be challenging each other and it’ll be fun to watch.”
With both Miller and Donald operating as disruptive forces, the Rams front seven will be a pass rush nightmare for opposing teams.
“I feel like it frees up us all,” Miller said about joining an already formidable from line. “I’m sure they’ll figure out creative ways to try to triple team and double team and chip but it can’t possibly be that effective. We got great coaches, we got a great guys playing on his team and we’ll be able to figure it out. They’ve already been with it, we are first in sacks on defense already and add me to that team, I feel like I could add and help out some of these guys for sure.”
Speaking of Donald, the addition of Miller gives the Rams two of the best defensive pass rushers in the league over the last decade. Miller expressed his excitement about joining up with Donald and the potential it brings for the Rams defense.
“It’s incredible,” said Miller. “You hear stories of the ‘Fearsome Foursome.’ You hear stories in this legendary defense. We want to recreate that. They’ve been playing great defense all year and I just want to add to it. I want to add some of the things that I do best. My leadership and my energy and my positive vibes. I just want to contribute to a winning team. It’ll be fun.”
The option of adding a future Hall of Famer in Miller on the roster was undeniable for the Rams. Even McVay was caught off guard when he was presented with the idea of a proposed deal that gives Denver second and third-round draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft in exchange for Miller.
McVay’s initial reaction was one of disbelief.
“Yeah, you got to be (explicit) me,” McVay said. “I’m like no way. And then you start to really unpack it and understand the ramifications and what’s it going to take and what does that look like? What does that potentially do and how we envision him fitting into our football team. (It) became more and more of a reality really over the last week.”
Miller’s most productive year as a pass rush specialist took place in his second season in the league when he recorded 18.5 sacks. The last time Miller registered double-digit numbers in sacks was in 2018 when totaled 14.5 quarterback putdowns. Those numbers dropped dramatically to eight sacks in 15 games in 2019.
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. “I write what I’m passionate about.”