Sean McVay breaks down the Von Miller trade and what he brings to the Rams

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The Rams front office handed Sean McVay another superstar to work with by acquiring Von Miller from the Broncos this week. Miller is an eight-time Pro Bowler and future Hall of Famer, and now joins a defense that already has Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Leonard Floyd.

Outside linebacker wasn’t a glaring weakness in Los Angeles but the Rams couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a talent like Miller. McVay spoke about how the trade came to fruition and what Miller brings to the defense, calling him a “complete football player.”

What Miller brings to the Rams

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The Rams see Miller as more than just a pass rusher. He’s a complete player who can get to the quarterback, stop the run and even drop back into coverage – though he shouldn’t be expected to do much of that for the Rams.

Here’s what McVay said about Miller’s skill set and how the Rams plan to utilize him on defense.

“I think he brings an element – obviously an incredibly unique football player that not only is a great pass rusher, but he’s a complete football player that can really affect and influence an offense in a negative way on all three downs,” McVay said. “You can utilize him in a variety of different ways. I think when you look at he and Leonard Floyd on the outside, obviously Aaron (Donald) inside, the continued maturation of Sebastian Joseph-Day. Thought Greg Gaines was really good yesterday. Thought A’Shawn Robinson’s playing better. So, you look at what it takes to be successful defensively and it’s about affecting and influencing the quarterback and this guy does it as well as anybody over the course of his career. We felt like it was a really good thing for our team. I know a lot of players are excited about being able to add Von to the mix and can’t wait to get him here and get going.”

How Miller helps Rams' other pass rushers

(AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The best way to make life easier for Aaron Donald is to bring in other talented pass rushers. The Rams did that with Dante Fowler Jr. in 2019, then Leonard Floyd last year and now Von Miller.

Miller will prevent opposing offenses from doubling Donald as much as they do because when that happens, Miller and Floyd are more likely to win their one-on-one matchups.

“He can do so many different things,” McVay said. “I know I’m kind of all over the place, but it’s matchups, it’s being able to get him isolated. I could tell you another guy that’s really excited about this is Aaron Donald because what does he know is that when you have other great players like Von, like Leonard Floyd, these other guys that are starting to assert themselves as legitimate players, it’s going to allow him to be able to get some of those matchups and take a little bit of stress off of him when everybody’s looking at him. I think that’ll still be the case, but at some point, you’re still playing 11-on-11 and we feel really good about some of those things.”

How much Miller is expected to play vs. Titans

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Miller is officially a member of the Rams now after passing his physical, so he’s eligible to play in Week 9 against the Titans. He’s expected to suit up but how much he plays is still to be determined.

McVay says it’ll come down to his week of preparation and his ankle, which the Rams say should be healed before Sunday’s game.

“I think a lot of it is going to be predicated on coming in, how is he feeling?” McVay said. “I think that there’s going to be a lot of things that’ll be quick studies for him, but I think a lot of that is predicated on, what’s the game plan? How many different personnel groupings based on the different situations and circumstances? And so, very similar to when we acquired Jalen (Ramsey) a couple of years ago, never did I expect him to play as many snaps as he did against the Falcons. And so, we’ll have a plan, but a lot of that, I think when you’re talking about a veteran player of Von’s magnitude, you want to make sure that you’re inclusive with them, get a feel for how he’s feeling, where’s that comfort level at, and figuring out what that sweet spot is as the week kind of unfolds. Probably have a better feel for that as we get closer to the game.”

McVay's relationship with Miller

(AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

McVay doesn’t have a close relationship with Miller and has never coached him, but they’ve gotten to know each other around NFL circles. McVay loves his personality and energy and after speaking with him briefly Monday, the coach is excited to have Miller in L.A.

“I’ve gotten to know Von just through crossovers and he’s a great guy,” he said. “Really, he’s got great energy. He’s got a great way about himself. Obviously, I have tremendous respect for his game and watching him over the years. And so, just told him how excited I am to be able to get him here and get to work. I know he was processing a lot of things in a short period of time. I spoke with him probably right after he had got done speaking with Denver. He’s a legend. He’ll be a Hall of Fame-type of player, he’ll be a Ring of Fame-type of guy for the Broncos, Super Bowl MVP. So, there’s a lot to unpack there, but we’re certainly excited to get him rolling and get him going with the Rams.”

Whether Miller is still the player he once was

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There are questions about whether Miller is still the dominant edge rusher he once was now that he’s 32 years old and coming off a serious ankle injury that caused him to miss all of the 2020 season. McVay doesn’t have any concerns about that, saying Miller can still make an impact off the edge when healthy.

“He’s still a great player that can really affect and influence the game in a variety of ways, like I was talking about,” he said. “Obviously, he got banged up in that Thursday night game and then missed yesterday, but his production early on, his ability to be able to get after the quarterback specifically in those first few weeks of the season was definitely on display and want to continue to try to do a good job as a team of earning our defense opportunities to really get after the quarterback. And most of those are presented by being efficient on early downs, but also with the offense scoring and getting the lead and trying to make teams one dimensional because they’re having to play from behind.”

Why the Rams targeted an edge rusher

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There were other positions the Rams could’ve addressed before the trade deadline, such as inside linebacker, tight end and wide receiver. However, they elected to go all in on Miller and add a pass rusher.

Despite having Floyd already, as well as Terrell Lewis and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, the Rams saw value in adding another edge rusher to their outside linebacker group.

“You’re always kind of just feeling out the landscape of the league and what are the different avenues of upgrading your team. And certainly, that position where you’re talking about really that front, whether it’s interior or on the edge, has the ability to influence and affect the quarterback,” he said. “And as a result of when you apply pressure to the quarterback, all of a sudden you become better on the second and the third levels. And so, because of the way that that position in particular, in a player of Von’s caliber, can help raise the level of play or alleviate, you can move the hard downs a little bit around. That was what was enticing about it. I also think it’s awesome that we’ve been able to establish some depth opposite Leonard Floyd. You’ve seen Terrell Lewis play a significant amount of snaps, Obo has done some good things. We all know what a great job Justin Hollins did before he goes out with that pec injury. And so, to be able to have this many good players that you feel like have played beneficial, meaningful snaps, it’s a real exciting thing for our coaches and our defensive staff, in particular, to figure out ways to try to make it difficult on offenses on a weekly basis. And that was kind of the thought process and why we felt good about trying to add Von.”

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