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Buffalo Bills have built a trio of athletic linebackers fit for modern football

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Quietly, the Buffalo Bills have built a trio of young linebackers well-suited to take on modern NFL offense

by Avery Duncan 1 day ago
 

Since 2017, the mantra of the Buffalo Bills new era of leadership and team-building has been the process. With Brandon Beane acting as a conductor of the train, the Bills have seamlessly built something out of nothing. This holds especially true when accounting for the quarterback, offensive line, secondary, defensive line, and linebacker corps.

Maybe the least polarizing of all the previously mentioned units is the last unit. In today’s NFL, linebackers are being pulled off the field, in exchange for fleet-footed defensive backs — AKA nickel cornerbacks in sub formations.

The radical, league-wide, acclimation of the horizontal passing game has forced teams to move away from prototypical, big-bodied, bludgeoning linebackers in favor of quicker, safety-esque ones. The linebackers of old simply weren’t build to handle slot receivers and fast tight ends on a snap-to-snap basis. Per Sharp Football Stats, the NFL ran 73% of their plays with a slot receiver in 2018.

The Bills are all too aware of the league’s shift in thought process and schematics. The team’s past three drafts are an excellent indication of that, specifically, the selections of Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds, and Vosean Joseph.

Image result for mat milano.  buffalo bills

Milano, the team’s fifth-round selection in 2017 is the leader of the young group of modern linebackers. A former safety turned inside linebacker; he’s athletic as they come. Though considered undersized at 6-foot, 223-pounds, he turned heads at the combine to the tune of a 4.67 second 40-yard-dash, 127-inch broad jump, and 35-inch vertical.

In Milano’s second year, 2018, his athleticism coupled with excellent coverage play, earned him a full-time starting nod. He proved to be an excellent fit as a sideline-to-sideline WILL linebacker in the 4-3, racking up 78 total tackles, 12 for a loss, three interceptions, and seven pass deflections in 13 games played.

Milano’s starting teammate, Edmunds, was a combine star in 2018. The then-20-year-old measured in at a stout 6-foot-5 and 253-pounds, then recorded a 4.54 second 40-yard-dash and a117-inch broad jump. His freakish measurements, athletic testing, youthfulness, and impressive film earned him the status as the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Unlike Milano, Edmunds is far from undersized. Like his fellow teammate, he’s fast, rangy, and built for the modern NFL. Though his first season was up-and-down, he showed promise like we haven’t seen before; a giant linebacker that can run with defensive backs — the perfect fit for an NFL that wants to be faster in all aspects. He won Defensive Rookie of the Month in December, as he tallied 43 total tackles, two interceptions, four pass deflections, and a sack.

Image result for Vosean Joseph.  buffalo bills

The last of three, Joseph, a fifth-round pick this year, fits the athletic, rangy mold we are going for. He has kinks to work out in his game — specifically diagnosing plays, finishing tackles, and discipline — but he checks the athleticism box off emphatically. Though he didn’t test pre-draft, due to a hamstring injury, many described him as explosive and/or electric, as NFL’s Lance Zierlein said;

 

https://buffalowdown.com/2019/06/11/buffalo-bills-have-built-a-trio-of-athletic-linebackers-fit-for-modern-football/

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What will be interesting to watch is that last year the Patriots played quite a few games (including both games against the Bills) where they clearly were committed to running the football.  Even playing old-fashioned power football and doing it successfully.  As Brady continues to age, and his replacement isn't obvious, I wonder if Belichick is going to be ahead of the curve again and take advantage of these smaller, faster more athletic linebackers by using power football to wear them down.  I stall have nightmares watching the gigantic offensive lines of the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys abuse Jeff Wright and the lighter, faster athletic defenses of the Bills.

 

Of course I could just be suffering from battered fan syndrome.

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1 hour ago, Ridgewaycynic2013 said:

Knowing HOUSE’s sense of humour, I fully expected to see a still of Curly, Larry, and Moe in ‘Three Little Pigskins’.

 
 
Image result for the three stooges football gif
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23 minutes ago, HT02 said:

What will be interesting to watch is that last year the Patriots played quite a few games (including both games against the Bills) where they clearly were committed to running the football.  Even playing old-fashioned power football and doing it successfully.  As Brady continues to age, and his replacement isn't obvious, I wonder if Belichick is going to be ahead of the curve again and take advantage of these smaller, faster more athletic linebackers by using power football to wear them down.  I stall have nightmares watching the gigantic offensive lines of the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys abuse Jeff Wright and the lighter, faster athletic defenses of the Bills.

 

Of course I could just be suffering from battered fan syndrome.

 

rock paper scissors bro, totally bang on.

 

the balanced 4-3 d that mcbean and co run is actually ideal in that case, because it's not super focused on one single thing so it can (when run well with good talent) be effective vs multiple types of fronts

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I'm hoping Foggie makes the team, he is a pure coverage LB that used to be a WR so he would recognize plays. I can see the PS for him this year, but making it next year as a ST guy and back up.

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1 hour ago, HT02 said:

What will be interesting to watch is that last year the Patriots played quite a few games (including both games against the Bills) where they clearly were committed to running the football.  Even playing old-fashioned power football and doing it successfully.  As Brady continues to age, and his replacement isn't obvious, I wonder if Belichick is going to be ahead of the curve again and take advantage of these smaller, faster more athletic linebackers by using power football to wear them down.  I stall have nightmares watching the gigantic offensive lines of the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys abuse Jeff Wright and the lighter, faster athletic defenses of the Bills.

 

Of course I could just be suffering from battered fan syndrome.

When it comes to the interior running game, Buffalo has a fast, athletic, and huge linebacker in Edmunds, so they may be less vulnerable than you'd expect.  I don't think that on the outside the undersized nature of Milano and Joseph is going to be too much of a handicap.  New England's running backs are all in the 200-220 lb range.  Milano is 223 and Joseph is 230.  Milano has always shown the ability to sift through the blocking on the outside.

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1 hour ago, HT02 said:

What will be interesting to watch is that last year the Patriots played quite a few games (including both games against the Bills) where they clearly were committed to running the football.  Even playing old-fashioned power football and doing it successfully.  As Brady continues to age, and his replacement isn't obvious, I wonder if Belichick is going to be ahead of the curve again and take advantage of these smaller, faster more athletic linebackers by using power football to wear them down.  I stall have nightmares watching the gigantic offensive lines of the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys abuse Jeff Wright and the lighter, faster athletic defenses of the Bills.

 

Of course I could just be suffering from battered fan syndrome.

 

While I completely get you and worry about it as well... We also have a 6'5 250+ pound MLB and a 6'2 311lbs DT to help muck up the works in the middle of the field.  

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1 hour ago, GunnerBill said:

I do think in 2020 and beyond this group as a starting trio has the potential to be really good. 

I think they could be really good THIS year!  Looking for Edmunds to take a big step forward 

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45 minutes ago, RiotAct said:

I think they could be really good THIS year!  Looking for Edmunds to take a big step forward 

 

Agree,I think they will be pretty good this year as well. Edmunds 2nd year and hopefully he will be better along will Milano coming back healthy. Think they will be good this year and next few years as long as they can remain healthy.

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2 hours ago, Ridgewaycynic2013 said:

Knowing HOUSE’s sense of humour, I fully expected to see a still of Curly, Larry, and Moe in ‘Three Little Pigskins’.

 

image.png.73e613f2875df102a01a6cd52abe0fea.png

 

Tailgate prep, the logistics of this are still astounding

 

 

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3 hours ago, RiotAct said:

I think they could be really good THIS year!  Looking for Edmunds to take a big step forward 

 

What I meant was as a trio. I doubt Joseph starts this year. 

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3 hours ago, TheBeane said:

 

While I completely get you and worry about it as well... We also have a 6'5 250+ pound MLB and a 6'2 311lbs DT to help muck up the works in the middle of the field.  

Edmunds got pushed around quite a bit last year, that goes with his misdiagnosing plays and taking bad angles. I know he is young but lack of instincts was his knock in college. He has a long way to go especially with the seasons Leonard, VanderEsch,  and Warner had. I hope he turns out. 

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5 hours ago, noacls said:

Edmunds got pushed around quite a bit last year, that goes with his misdiagnosing plays and taking bad angles. I know he is young but lack of instincts was his knock in college. He has a long way to go especially with the seasons Leonard, VanderEsch,  and Warner had. I hope he turns out. 

Could you please share that lack of instincts knock in college link please?  I seemed to have missed that one.

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21 hours ago, PaattMaann said:

"the leader of the group is Milano"....whaaaaatttt???

Milano is the most proven by far. Edmunds represents tremendous upside, but he wasn't exactly "great" as a rookie. You know what you're getting with Milano and that's big plays and range. Only downside is he's not strong at the point of attack, but that's not what they ask of him.

 

Like Gunner, I feel like this could potentially be the best NFL LB trio by 2020. Big fan of Vosean Joseph.

17 hours ago, GunnerBill said:

 

What I meant was as a trio. I doubt Joseph starts this year. 

I wouldn't be SHOCKED if he was starting by the end of the year, but agree that it's not likely.

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11 hours ago, HT02 said:

What will be interesting to watch is that last year the Patriots played quite a few games (including both games against the Bills) where they clearly were committed to running the football.  Even playing old-fashioned power football and doing it successfully.  As Brady continues to age, and his replacement isn't obvious, I wonder if Belichick is going to be ahead of the curve again and take advantage of these smaller, faster more athletic linebackers by using power football to wear them down.  I stall have nightmares watching the gigantic offensive lines of the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys abuse Jeff Wright and the lighter, faster athletic defenses of the Bills.

 

Of course I could just be suffering from battered fan syndrome.

 

Whatever we do, should have done the other thing.

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29 minutes ago, BobDVA said:

Could you please share that lack of instincts knock in college link please?  I seemed to have missed that one.

 

I saw some comments on it along the way but took it with a grain of salt as he didn’t even hit puberty til his sophomore year and comments like that often get hung on guys the are younger but highly athletic. It’s often hard to tell at that level who is taking calculated risks knowing they are playing on another level and who just isn’t making great reads and get away with it 

 

that said, he definitely has to work on being a technician and his athleticism did probably let him get by in some spots in HS and college 

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1 hour ago, BobDVA said:

Could you please share that lack of instincts knock in college link please?  I seemed to have missed that one.

It's called GOOGLE. Do the work on your own

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I think including Joseph in the mix is a bit presumptuous considering that the kid is a 5th round draft pick that has yet to take a preseason or regular season snap.  I like what I’ve read about him though and it seems like he has the physical attributes to be a good fit in the defense 

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12 hours ago, HT02 said:

What will be interesting to watch is that last year the Patriots played quite a few games (including both games against the Bills) where they clearly were committed to running the football.  Even playing old-fashioned power football and doing it successfully.  As Brady continues to age, and his replacement isn't obvious, I wonder if Belichick is going to be ahead of the curve again and take advantage of these smaller, faster more athletic linebackers by using power football to wear them down.  I stall have nightmares watching the gigantic offensive lines of the Giants, Redskins and Cowboys abuse Jeff Wright and the lighter, faster athletic defenses of the Bills.

 

Of course I could just be suffering from battered fan syndrome.

 

I was a Kyle Vanderesch guy, and you make a good point, but Edmunds is a freak of nature. I've been hard on him, but a guy 6'5" or so and 250 lbs is old school LB size, but has nu school stats, and should help make him be a 3 down LB and make the center of the D stout. His December really impressed me.

9 hours ago, row_33 said:

 

image.png.73e613f2875df102a01a6cd52abe0fea.png

 

Tailgate prep, the logistics of this are still astounding

 

 

the only thing missing is a folding table!

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4 hours ago, noacls said:

It's called GOOGLE. Do the work on your own

Already did, and I claim your claim unsubstantiated!

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I think he will be fine

NFL Rookies of the Month - December

 
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK/MONTH 2018 REGULAR ENGLISH

RAVENS QB LAMAR JACKSON & BILLS LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS

NAMED NFL ROOKIES OF THE MONTH OF DECEMBER

Quarterback LAMAR JACKSON of the Baltimore Ravens and linebacker TREMAINE EDMUNDS of the Buffalo Bills are the NFL Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Month of December.

OFFENSE: QB LAMAR JACKSON, BALTIMORE RAVENS

DEFENSE: LB TREMAINE EDMUNDS, BUFFALO BILLS

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