When it comes to football, the best insight you can get is from players and coaches currently in the league. With the Patriots set to take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High on Sunday, the Patriots subreddit (H/T: DarkKnightXIII) posted a link to an article on the Players Tribune written by Broncos superstar pass rusher Von Miller. Miller has given the Patriots fits in the past and single-handedly ruined the Patriots Super Bowl hopes last January. Miller listed his five toughest matchups to play against, the Patriots represented well. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Bill Belichick make the list for toughest QB, TE, and HC he’s ever faced in his career.
Miller is pretty evident that teams attempt to game plan heavily against him, which is why the list isn’t about offensive tackles, but rather a much larger pool and one person per category. The first Patriot mentioned on the article was Tom Brady, citing mostly Brady’s uncanny ability to diagnose defenses pre-snap. Miller compares Brady’s ability to quickly go through his reads as turning the game into a 7 on 7 drill you see in training camp. One of the few things he hates playing the Patriots is Brady’s ability to extend drives and make defenses go through 10+ play drives when the big play isn’t there, wearing him and the other pass rushers out. He finishes by praising Brady’s ability to avoid big hits and bouncing back from when he does.
The next Patriots player he mentions is TE Rob Gronkowski. Miller talks about Gronk’s ability as a pass blocker in addition to his unprecedented skill set as a receiver. We all know that Gronk is virtually impossible to single-cover due to his rare combination of size, speed, and hands. In the article itself, there is a GIF of Gronk’s insane one-handed grab against the Broncos, although Miller points to Shane Vereen’s chip block to help a pulling Dan Connolly on the edge (it was a play action pass). The final Patriot mentioned on the list is head coach Bill Belichick. Miller lauds Belichick’s ability to craft game plans and set up plays with formations and motions.
It’s nice to see a tough opponent like Von Miller give the Patriots head coach and best two weapons on offense props. Miller is no doubt one of the game’s greatest players and perhaps the best defensive player in the game today. The Patriots know they’re going to be in a tough battle on Sunday with Miller’s sights on Tom Brady. Miller’s ability to explode off the snap is second to none and why he has so much success rushing the passer and forcing teams to game plan against him. Miller will be the toughest defensive player the Patriots will face all season, and hopefully he has an awful game on Sunday. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins or is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year when the season is over.