ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WROC) — To borrow from the wise and amazing Spiderman, if great power requires great responsibility, the great loss can lead to great opportunity. This is a big part if how the Bills view their immediate future without outside linebacker Von Miller.
“I talked to Greg [Rousseau],” said safety Jordan Poyer. “I said ‘Greg, this is a great opportunity for you dude. Holy cow. You have an opportunity to really solidify.’ I mean he already has. But he has an opportunity to really solidify himself as one of the top pass rushers, which I believe he is in the NFL.”
Miller initially suffered the injury late in the second quarter on Thanksgiving Day against the Lions. The star pass rusher was placed on Injured Reserve before last Thursday’s game against the Patriots.
The Super Bowl 50 MVP initially said last week on his podcast that he hoped to be back at some point during the regular season. But with the damage to his ACL, the wait for his return is now pushed to 2023.
“I just feel like we have to execute at a higher level with certain things to pick up that slack,” said cornerback Taron Johnson. “It’s going to be a challenge but every team has to deal with stuff like this. It’s no different for us.”
Miller can still have an impact as a leader. In fact, his message of positivity already has.
“Thinking negatively and having those negative thoughts, it really impacts the way you view it and the way you work,” said defensive AJ Epenesa. “When you have thoughts like that, it kind of comes into fruition. He’s a big believer in thinking positive, positive outlooks. Today is going to be a great day. You can make what you make of it.”
Miller signed a six-year, $120 million contract with the Bills in the offseason and leads the team with eight sacks and 38 pressures.
“That whole thing Von brought about don’t blink,” said Bills general manager Brandon Beane. “Guys have done a great job. Yeah we had some bumps and not everything has been pretty. It’s a part of the deal and we’re confident that with Von out, these young guys will step up.”
“I don’t know when he’s coming back, but he’s coming back,” said quarterback Josh Allen. “To have his presence in the locker room and teaching guys still, I think that’s going to be a big help for us.”
Miller’s teammates found out about his season-ending injury during team meeting on Wednesday. Poyer admitted it shocked everyone. The reaction in the locker room can be summed up as pain, with a bit of frustration, and a healthy dose of resolve.
“It mostly sucks losing him,” said Allen. “Guy of his caliber and what he came here to do and guy of his caliber.”
Poyer said that he loved Miller as both a friend and teammate and that he’s grown to appreciate him as a man.
“Like I said on and off the field he’s taught me so much,” said Poyer. “In the game of football in his short time being here. To lose a guy like that is tough.”
It’s the second consecutive season that the Bills have lost an impact starter on defense on Thanksgiving as cornerback Tre White suffered a torn ACL on the holiday in 2021. White recently returned to the lineup in Week 12 against the Lions.
“When you lose a guy of that caliber on a football team it’s always tough,” said linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. “In particular our side of the ball defensively just because of what he brought to the table and his leadership just not having him out there. But that happens in this game. That’s sad but it’s true.”
Miller was Buffalo’s splash signing in the offseason and was brought to help take the team to Super Bowl level heights.
“It’s a team sport,” said defensive end Shaq Lawson. “One player don’t make the team. That’s why football is the most team sport there is. You need 22 players out there to make one play work.”
The Bills (9-3) currently are atop the AFC East with three games left against their divisional counterparts. The team also holds the number one seed in the conference.
“At the end of the day, this is a business,” said defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. “And it doesn’t matter who’s out there. You still have a job you’re supposed to do. We all have goals and those goals don’t stop because of one person. It doesn’t matter how big the person is.”
It has been a rough year for the Bills injury wise, especially on defense. But the silver lining may be they were better prepared to handle the Miller bombshell on Wednesday. The Bills looked at this news as not the end of their season, just one page of it.
“This is a part of our story and it’s going to be a great story,” said Johnson.