Miller vs. Houston: Fans Square Off
It's the eternal sports fan debate. "My team's guy is better than your team's guy." Every single person in the world has had this argument at one point or another (with exceptions being made for infants, naturally). These arguments are especially bitter between division rivals, and as of late Chiefs fans and Broncos fans have elevated their feud to nearly "Game of Thrones"-like status in their arguments over players at similar positions. No one has been decapitated as of this writing, but I assume that's just a matter of time.
Last time we broke down the elite cornerbacks on these two teams: Brandon Flowers and Champ Bailey.
Now, this time, it's go big or go home. We've set up for an epic battle here, a battle for the ages. If Peter Jackson were directing, this showdown would win Oscars. Stand clear, this could get messy.
My opponent: Seth Keysor. A devoted Chiefs fans and a heck of a guy.
But he's got his work cut out for him this time…
It’s the battle of the elite defenders! Seth supports Justin Houston of the Chiefs…my guy? Von Miller of the Broncos. A clash of outside linebacker/pass rush elite/player extraordinaires.
The tension is audible...the audience hushed...let's get under way.
Let's get down to it then. Seth, first of all, thanks for being here. Second of all, Justin Houston. What is so special about this guy?
Man, you should've asked me an easier question. Like, "what's NOT special about Justin Houston?"
Because that answer would've been simple; basically nothing. Houston is one of the most physically gifted players on the planet. He's huge at 6'3", 260 pounds, but he's a gifted athlete. He's also strong as an ox, with long arms to boot. His first step is incredible, his punch is ridiculous, his bend is phenomenal.
He can do anything. He can stand up OL and give zero ground. He can stack blockers and stuff the run. He can bull rush or speed rush. He can drop back into coverage. Basically, his toolbox as a player is limitless. His versatility is literally unparalleled at his position. No one can do everything the way Justin Houston can.
That enough for you?
Well, that is all very impressive. But keep in mind Von Miller is an extremely versatile player as well. He is 6'3", 250...so just a little lighter than your guy. But he ran a 4.49 40 yard dash. That is beyond incredible.
The guy can pass rush. He is a machine. I challenge you to watch this video. His bend under the reach of Raiders RT Khalif Barnes is unhuman. It doesn't seem physically possible to dip that kind of frame that low at that kind of speed...and keep your footing perfectly.
Von is effectively built to rush the passer. That's where his skillset lies. Yet, this is a hungry kid. He is only going into his third year, and yet he already realizes that he wants to round out his game.
“I think I’ve definitely improved, especially in coverage,” Miller said. “If you ask [Linebackers] Coach [Richard] Smith, he’ll say that I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I think I still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve got some great receivers and I think I’ve been doing a great job with those guys.”
I want to cut down on some of the mental errors, working a little more on technique. I want to be technically sound on every single play. I want to be able to respond and react in tight situations.
Interview with Mile High Report,
There is no question that Von ranks among the best pass rushers in the league. But a Von Miller who has the capability to drop into coverage is a defensive coordinator's dream.
Hey, no one is going to argue with you about Miller's pass rushing. The guy is a monster. That move on Barnes was incredible. Now, to be fair... it was Khalif Barnes. I mean, c'mon now. I'm not going to show you a video of Justin Houston owning me in a pass-rushing drill. And that's pretty much the same thing (rim shot on Raiders! High fives all around!)
And I gotta say... IS Von a "versatile" player? I mean, I see a guy who has the athleticism to run all over the field. there's no denying it. If you keep blockers off him, he'll definitely make plays. And I'll willingly concede the point that Von, last year, was a more productive pass rusher than Houston was last year. Of course, it's not nearly the blowout that most Denver fans want to pretend it is. Now go ahead and pick your jaw up off the floor and let's look at a few things regarding pass rushing.
Last year, Miller rushed the passer 498 times. That's what'll happen when your defense is constantly in the lead and your coach is smart enough to send his best rushers. Houston, on the other hand, only rushed the passer 352 times all season. So when people point to Von's (admittedly) superior numbers and say "it's not even close!!!!" they're only telling half the story. Miller was put in a dream scenario to put up big pass rushing stats (knowing the other team is passing) and got a chance to do so 150 extra times. Dude had all the advantages.
But let's say Miller is the superior pass rusher, just for kicks and giggles. Even then, Houston's overall game still puts him over the top. Houston can do all the things Miller can do. He can drop into coverage, he can run around and make plays, he can speed rush, etc. But Miller CANNOT do everything Houston can do. In a pinch, you can throw Houston on the line and say, "we need you to stand up this OT and hold him off, then shed his block to make a tackle down the line." And Houston can do that. because he's also a BULL. Miller can't do that. He's almost exclusively reliant on that remarkable athleticism. If Miller's on the line, you run the ball right at him. With Houston, that's suicide for the run game.
So what you've got is a (right now at least) one-trick pony vs. a guy who excels in all facets of the game. Sure, Von's trying to improve his all-around game. You can find another guy like Von Miller if you look around the league (again, Aldon Smith). But you can't find another Justin Houston.
I fully agree. Justin Houston is a versatile player.
But to say that Miller is bad against the run is foolhardy. That's lunacy. He had 28 Tackles for Loss (TFL) last year, second to only J.J. Watt, with 13 “run stuffs”. And 21 TFL the year before that.
He can play the run just as good as his pass rush.
Might I remind you of a certain run snap that the Chiefs ran right at him and that Miller absolutely blew up?
A straight-forward run off LT.
FB DiMarco tries to go low on Miller. Mistake.
TFL. Massive loss, play absolutely blown up by Miller. (pictures from http://www.itsallove...r-and-the-shed)
Aldon Smith used to get subbed out on run downs. Miller stayed in because he's capable of that.
And did either Houston or Aldon Smith have a pick 6 from being dropped into coverage? No, but Miller did.
You had to rub salt on old wounds, didn't you? You're funny! That's it, the gloves are off, my friend.
Hey, yeah, that is a very impressive play by Von. He does a nice job keeping Pancakes DiMarco (not really living up to the name there) off him and makes a great tackle for a loss. Maybe the Aldon Smith comparison isn't quite fair.
But... how does that play show Miller's strength? Dude's standing up at the snap and is left alone in space against the fullback because the RDE takes on our LT. Basically, it's the same story; Miller gets it done when other players keep offensive linemen off him. And no doubt, he is GREAT at that. But he can't do it on his own.
That type of play, while a great play, can be made by tons of different linebackers. Justin Houston can make that play. My point is that while Miller is great at what he does, he's limited by a lack of strength. Now, it's not like he's a WR out there or anything. But he is what he is; a finesse player. He's locked into a certain number of roles. Houston doesn't have that kind of limitation. Need a 4-3 DL? Great. An OLB? Sure, why not. An ILB? Great. Miller can do most of that. But not all of it.
What's more, with Justin Houston, what AREN'T you getting? You know what I'm about to say, right? You know I have to, right? You know what you aren't getting with Houston?
Yep, sorry, I have to go here. With Von Miller comes drama. And risk. The guy is already suspended 4 games to start this season. And let's face it, that appeal didn't have a great shot BEFORE the newest drama came out. Are you really comfortable relying on a guy who can't even manage to make a court appearance? If Von lived in the real world he would've been arrested months ago for that failure to appear, and he absolutely would not have been given a Sunday hearing and let out on a mere thousand dollar bond. Dude got star treatment. And that, my friend, is a dangerous sign.
So with Von you've got a guy who is actively showing he's not going to comply with league rules. If he messes up again, his next suspension will likely be for half a year. Or possibly even more.
With Houston, you don't have that risk (at least at the moment, gimme a second to throw some salt over my shoulder... OK, I'm good).
More versatility? Check. Less of a headache? Check. Give me Houston all day!
No, I only chose that play because I knew I had screenshots of it bookmarked. So it's nothing against you.
I disagree with what you say here. Defensive lineman haven't really been our strength of recent in Denver. And before you say Dumervil, he was a liability against the run.
OK, you had to talk about drama, didn't you. Gloves are off. No holds barred now! Cage fight.
Yes, Von has maturity issues. However, there is a fairly good chance that that suspension gets overturned since, from all official accounts, there's a good chance that the suspension is resulting from a missed test, not a failed one. And some have said that they believe that missed test happened during Von's USO tour of troops in Afghanistan for the NFL. So that might be overturned.
However, I cannot defend the rest of it. Miller has All Pro talent, Hall of Fame talent...Greatest of All Time talent. But get a straight head on your shoulders, son! You have phenomenal talent, all that money, do something intelligent about it!
And there was no star treatment involved in the arrest.
Here's the inside scoop: he missed a court appearance, which resulted in having a warrant put out on him. It's a low-level warrant though (from what I'm told about this kind of situation) which doesn't actually require police to immediately go and arrest them. It often comes up at a routine traffic stop..you run the name, find out the guy has a warrant, you arrest.
However, Von was out buying a gun. The background search on that triggered the warrant, the police come on the call, arrest him then. No star treatment involved. That's all.
So yes Von's actions are a headache. I cannot defend what he's done in the least.
However, we're talking about a guy who's a 2-time All Pro and defensive rookie of the year from a draft that had Aldon Smith, Patrick Peterson, J.J. Watt and Prince Amukamara. That isn't impressive enough for you? You're seriously telling me "Give me Houston all day!"
My question to you is, if Houston is that impressive, why is nobody talking about him?
Oh man, you didn't just try and tell a public defender how arrest warrants for low-level offenses work, did you? I have a few clients who would love to beg to differ on the subject. Of course, they're stuck in jail for failing to appear in court, so they can't....
I promise you, I absolutely PROMISE you, that with an arrest warrant, if the cops know the location of a guy for a fact, they go ahead and grab him. Doesn't matter if it's for a FTA. Half the people I represent do over-nighters because of FTA's. The reason people don't get arrested for those types of warrants until a traffic stop is that cops don't know where they are and aren't going to waste time looking for them. With Von, they knew exactly where he was the moment the warrant was signed by a judge. Also, notice that the arrest warrant wasn't signed the day of his FTA (usually standard practice)? And then it got signed in January? Weird, huh? Kinda like it got signed off AFTER football season.
Of course, it could well be that the court thought Miller would take care of it so they gave him a chance to correct the FTA. But that makes it even worse. He had months to take care of this and just chose not to. That's not a good sign. He received notice of the warrant out on him and chose to just... ignore it.
Now, with regards to the test... in my field, someone skipping out on tests is the same thing as failing one. So that (if true) doesn't really show me much other than one more example that he's irresponsible and thinks rules don't apply to him. Doesn't need to take tests. Doesn't need to show up for appointments. Doesn't need to go to court. What rules DOES Von Miller need to follow like the rest of us normal folk? (see how I'm turning it into a class war? Gotta love a good diversion...)
But hey, all that's periphery, isn't it? For all I know, the guy is as innocent as a newborn baby. And to quote a former Chief, "all this for a little weed?"
Back to football. Why isn't anyone talking about Houston? The same reason no one is talking about Kyle Williams with the Bills. When your team sucks, no one cares what you do. Williams is an absolute beast, but you never hear about the guy. Plus, it's not as though Houston is some total unknown. He DID make the Pro Bowl last year. And finally, are we really going to use the "nobody is talking about him" reason to say a guy can't ball? No one outside of Denver talks about Wesley Woodyard. No one. Tell me, how do you feel about him?
Additionally, most casual fans don't care about all-around game. They care about flash and stats. And Von's got plenty of that. They care about how many wins the team a guy plays for has. Von's had a ton last year. Fans don't care about things like versatility. Because that stuff is boring. Only coaches care about that kind of thing. Which is the point.
I'll close with an example. Let's say you can take one of two running backs. One has absolute world-class speed, great agility, decent vision, and can catch passes like nobody's business. The other also has world-class speed, but it's not QUITE as freakish. However, he's got the same ability to catch passes, has the same agility, etc. Except... he's 15-20 pounds heavier and has better vision, which allows him to run up the gut and makes him less reliant on the offensive line. Which guy do you take? The second one, right?
Houston is the same thing. He can do everything Von Miller can do. But Miller can't do everything Houston can do. Combine that with the risks associated with Von Miller and I'll take Houston on my team every time.
Well, you’re right, I shouldn’t go up against a public defender in matters like these. However, it is all peripheral until the appeal is heard and the due process run through.
No, perhaps I phrased the question wrong. I meant that, since Justin Houston is so good, why isn’t anyone talking about him? It’s really more of a philosophical question. I do think it’s because (no offense) the Chiefs have been just north of dismal as of late. Woodyard is a beast, but no one has heard of him. It’s a different problem.
Houston is an elite defender. But again, nobody talks about him. And that’s a problem.
Now, your little example is flawed. Perhaps that second back can run up the middle very well. But in terms of pass blocking, he’s just no comparison to A.
Von Miller is maybe the best pass rusher in the game. You just can’t argue against that kind of talent. This is a guy that was voted to be the 9th best player in the NFL. This from a guy who’s only played two seasons. Von had just four games last season in which he didn’t have a sack. He’s put up all-time numbers in just his first two seasons. Houston may be able to do everything Von can. But he just can’t do it at the same level Von can. And that is where I draw the line.
Would I like to have Houston on my team? Yeah, of course. But he doesn’t have as much talent or potential as Von does.
Thanks for your time, Seth, and thanks for your efforts.
To the readers... Who do you think is the better player, Von or Houston? Vote in the poll and provide some comments in the section below.
Next time, we’ll discuss who the better receiver is…Demaryius Thomas…or Dwayne Bowe.
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