ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – You can’t blame the Bills defensive struggles this season on injuries or missing one guy but it certainly doesn’t help that linebacker Matt Milano can’t seem to catch a break and stay healthy.
Milano is one of their best, most important defensive players because of what he brings to this defense and the type of plays he can make.
“Matt is an excellent player first and foremost, he’s an excellent player when he’s on the field you have total confidence that he can cover those slot receivers, cover the back out of the backfield and go in and make tackles and make big-time plays so anytime you’re missing a guy like that with that type of talent it’s a huge blow for your team,” Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White said.
“Matt is one of the best linebackers in the game. He can cover, he can tackle, he plays physical,” Bills safety Jordan Poyer said.
Milano has one of the only two interceptions for the Bills so far this season as he picked off Sam Darnold in the season opener against the Jets. But Milano could not finish the game as he left with a hamstring injury. He then missed week two against the Dolphins.
The following week against the Rams Milano was able to return and play the entire game. He also started week four against the Raiders but another injury came up, this time a pec injury where he was considered “week-to-week”.
Most recently, Milano has missed the past two games against the Titans and Chiefs, the Bills first two losses of the season. And while the Bills would love to have him out there, they can’t use missing Milano as an excuse for how the defense has played.
“No one player is bigger than the team, no one player can make the team win. It’s a total team game, that’s the beauty of the game so we’ve got to depend on each other for everybody to do their job and that’s the beauty of the game. If everybody does their job it just looks like everybody is playing well. If we can get back to that, everybody just doing their job, everybody believing in each other we’ll be fine,” White explained.
“Obviously not having him on the field is…we’d like to have him back as soon as possible but we always talk about next man up. It’s cliche, obviously we’d like to have him back on the football field because he is one of our best defensive players but at the same time we’ve still go to be able to go out there and execute without him or anybody else for that matter,” Poyer said.
Milano has definitely proved he is better than where he was drafted. The Bills drafted him in the fifth-round in 2017 so this is a contract year. It’s obviously not ideal to be dealing with this many injuries so early in the season when you’re trying to show the front office why they should sign him to a new deal instead of letting him test free agency, but at the same time players say he’s shown enough already.
“Everybody around the league knows what type of player he is and what caliber player he is. So he doesn’t have to come in and try to press and try to do things uncharacteristic or try to prove that he’s this type of player because it’s a contract year,” White said.
“Everybody around the league knows the type of player he is when he’s on the field. We already know what we’re gonna get one of the best outside linebackers in the league so that’s something that everybody in this building is confident in him and he’s confident too. There’s no pressure on him I feel.”