Roy Miller Vs. “The Stat Society”

March 4th, 2013

Bill Polian

During the NFL Combine, Joe had the honor to talk to one of the greatest general managers the NFL has ever known, Bill Polian. For those unaware, Polian built the Buffalo Bills juggernaut that went to four straight Super Bowls, was the original general manager of the Carolina Panthers when they made an NFC Championship in their second year, and led the Indianapolis Colts, who were a perennial playoff team under his lording. Polian now works for ESPN and SiriusXM NFL Radio as an NFL analyst. Polian explained to Joe, among other things, why the calculator crowd will never appreciate Bucs defensive tackle Roy Miller.

JoeBucsFan: Recently, Tim Ryan of SiriusXM NFL Radio told me that the problem with the Bucs’ pass rush wasn’t so much the defensive line, but the abject inability of the cornerbacks to cover anyone. He had said in the Bucs games he studied, quarterbacks often got rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds and that unless a defensive lineman was completely unblocked, they had no chance to get heat on the quarterback because receivers were virtually uncovered from the moment the ball was snapped. Is there any validity to that?

Bill Polian: Sure, it is the old chicken-and-the-egg. The best pass defense is a good pass rush and the injuries that they had, which were significant, the pass rush wasn’t there. Yeah. The whole premise of a 4-3 defense essentially is that those four guys in passing situations can get to the passer. Hurry him, move him off his spot – you don’t have to sack him. You just have to hurry him, move him off his spot and rush the throw. Make the throw not 100 percent on target and you get yourself a win for the defense. If you can’t rush the passer, and by the way the hardest people to find in this game are pass rushers …

Joe: Really, more so than corners?

Polian: … More so than corners — way more so than corners, yes. God only makes so many of them. So, if you don’t have those people because of injuries, which was the case, you are at a very serious disadvantage.

Joe: Now Roy Miller, the Bucs tackle. If you talk to Bucs coaches and front office people, they just rave about him. Fans don’t see it that way. They point to his lack of stats and say, “Oh, he doesn’t have enough stats, he doesn’t have enough tackles.” What is your impression? The Bucs say he is doing exactly what they ask him to do which is keep heat off of Gerald McCoy, who had a fantastic season.

Polian: Yes he did, and you are exactly right. The whole thing works in concert. The whole problem with the rising of the stat society is that people think they can measure everything. But this game is the most coordinated and complicated game in the world. Unless you have the ability to go back to the All-22 and run it back continually and understand what you are looking at — which the vast majority of stat people do not — the stats mean absolutely nothing. The coaches are right. They know what they are asking a player to do. The only question in their minds is, “Is he doing it correctly?” Greg Schiano is among the hardest graders in all of sports, in any sport. He is very demanding, very precise. I am certain that they grade that way and I am also certain that explanation that you gave [about Miller] is correct. It is a coordinated effort among the four rushers. It is a coordinated effort among the four or seven guys up front when they are playing the run. You have to fill the right gaps; you have to read the right keys. You have to do the right things. That doesn’t show up in stats.

Joe: Lavonte David may have been the steal of the draft, when the Bucs traded up from the third round to get him. Peter King says he is the new-age linebacker in that he can do just about anything. He can rush; he can clearly tackle so well, he is sideline-to-sideline. Talk about that; is he sort of revolutionizing football at outside linebacker?

Polian: He is if you play the kind of defense which the Bucs play, which is an attacking defense. If you play a two-gap, static defense the way the Niners play – static is the wrong word. If you play a physical stop-the-offense-on-the-line-of-scrimmage and then run to the ball, then no. [David’s] deal is running to the ball, attacking, movement in space. The Bucs linebackers play similarly to the way we played here, which is flow to the football. Lavonte David is perfect for that. I’m not so sure he could transfer to a power 34 like the Niners play.

13 Responses to “Roy Miller Vs. “The Stat Society””

  1. Jonny 3.3 Says:

    Joe, as a fan of your work here I have to mention this to you, why do you keep asking these former GMs and scouts about Roy Miller of all people. I rarely see anyone complain about Roy’s stats, everyone here know he is all about being a force against the run and not good enough as a pass rusher to draw double teams from McCoy. So please do not disparage Bucs fans by saying we are concerned about his stats.

  2. flmike Says:

    @Jonny 3.3
    Seriously, you obviously have no idea what the shifted/slanted NT’s job is then, please stop before you embarrass yourself any more.

  3. 4everBucsFan Says:

    I didn’t quite get Polians response to the pass rush vs. corners. You quoted to him what Ryan said about opposing QBs getting rid of the ball in less than 2.5 seconds and how our corners weren’t covering. But then Polian sort of agreed and then said it really comes down to a dominate pass rush. Which totally goes against Ryans observation. Was Polian speaking in general about the NFL without regards to last years Bucs? I believe it can be a breakdown in both lines of the defense that can raise an opposing QBs completion rate. Lack of a pass rush, or good pass rush terrible corner play.

    I also agree with Polian that L.David is a perfect LB in a 43 defense but would probably struggle in a 34 defense. He’s just to small to be a 34 OLB.

  4. Joe Says:

    Jonny:

    Joe, as a fan of your work here I have to mention this to you, why do you keep asking these former GMs and scouts about Roy Miller of all people.

    Joe thinks it is pretty obvious.

    Joe is asked all the time about upgrading at tackle. Yet the Bucs do cartwheels when talking to Joe about Roy Miller. Shoot, even times Joe wonders if Miller is that good.

    Is Joe getting conned? Are the fans (including Joe) missing something? What better way to find out than to ask respected NFL types who have no dog in the fight?

    Joe doesn’t see the problem with this.

  5. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Yeah Roy has played two good years as shifted/slanted Nose tackle position. One with Coach Raheem, the other with Coach Schiano. And played both years at the position very well. But with very little pass rush, he shows no scheme diversity. And thats the problem here. So do we need 2 upgrade the position?…. YES!!!

  6. the_buc_realist Says:

    Polian was saying if you can’t get to the qb and he is making clean throws in 2.5 seconds. get your hands up. jump, and have the 4 d-line get a half circle to close all passing lanes. Qb’s playing texans made the adjustment to make quick throws, so JJ watt started tipping the passes. its about disruption, and the bucs d-line has none in the last 4 years

  7. Red86 Says:

    Thanks Jonny 3.3… I was going to say something similar.

    Beside Polian proved my point in the interview. I think Miller is a solid backup or rotational guy. Good with the run but not getting the job done on passing downs. Especially when he has one guy to beat. That lead to 3 men rush. I’m willing to bet if Miller was two third as good as GMC in pass rush, that we wouldn’t see a 3 men rush as often as we do.

    Not all passes are 3 steps drops that was ran on us. The Eagles game during the clutch or crunch time, Foles had more than 5 seconds. Even ran it for a TD on the defense after going through 1…2..3…4 receivers.

    We hear McCoy, Bennett, Bowers, Clayborne, and Teo getting to the qb. I honestly don’t remember hearing Miller name in the same sentence with qb this year or years past. It just not enough and it isn’t often.

    quote 1
    “The whole premise of a 4-3 defense essentially is that those (four guys) in [passing situations] can get to the passer. Hurry him, move him off his spot – you don’t have to sack him. You just have to hurry him, move him off his spot and rush the throw. Make the throw not 100 percent on target and you get yourself a win for the defense. If you can’t rush the passer, and by the way the hardest people to find in this game are pass rushers.”

    quote2
    “The whole thing works in (concert.)”

    quote3
    “But this game is the most COORDINATED and complicated game in the world.”

    quote4
    “It is a (coordinated effort) among the “four” rushers. It is a coordinated effort among the four or seven guys up front when they are playing the run. You have to fill the right gaps; you have to read the right keys. You have to do the right things. That doesn’t show up in stats.”

  8. @MikeInTampa2 Says:

    Offer Miller up to 3.5 Million (which is a 400% pay raise). Franchise Mike Bennett. Draft 1 Inside or Outside pass rusher. We’d be in good shape. Get it done Rock Star

  9. lightningbuc Says:

    It’s guys like Polian that the term “rockstar GM” should be reserved for.

  10. paul Says:

    Lavonte David isn’t a 3-4 rush linebacker? He should’ve said something less obvious..

  11. Jonny 3.3 Says:

    @flmike: I have more knowledge and understanding of defense in my pinky than you have in your brain. Enlighten what a Nose Tackle’s job is against the pass then. Being a complete non factor when being blocked 1 on 1? The good nose tackles often destroy their blocker with strength if they only have a single guy to beat. Aside from alignment that draws double teams naturally, teams focus on doubling NT more because of their ability to collapse the pocket easily with strength alone.

  12. 4everBucsFan Says:

    ^^^^^^ …I’m guessing …maybe a 76 …..he’s definitely not above a 100 ……football IQ …probably the same.

  13. FLBoyInDallas Says:

    Yes, Miller is doing the job the Bucs are asking of him. That doesn’t rule out the fact, however, that there are guys available in free agency and the draft who can do it at an even higher level. There’s room for improvement. Ideally Miller should be playing a Gary Gibson type role and not be the full-time starter. Look for the Bucs to bring in competition for Miller.

 
 

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