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View from the O-Zone: Miller the right guy to lead defense


JACKSONVILLE – You know what ain't right?

When people talk the Jaguars' best players, they don't often mention Roy Miller. This year, that really ain't* *right, though as fellow defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks will tell you, there's a simple – albeit, unfair – reason.

"He's always going to be overlooked – he's a nose guard," Marks said with a laugh as the Jaguars prepared to visit the Baltimore Ravens Sunday.

If that ain't right, at least it's true. Not that the topic concerns Miller much.

See, while Miller may be the Jaguars' best defensive player right now, when it comes to this season, he has other things on his mind. Those things are obvious if you speak to Miller, or if you've listened to him after pretty much any Jaguars loss this season.

If you've listened then, you hear how close he believes the Jaguars are to where he wants them to be. You hear, too – shoot, you can feel it – how much he wants them to get there, and what that would mean to him.

He talked about it again this week. As usual, he spoke with passion.

"I just want to see this team … honestly, I feel like we're on to something," Miller said this week. "You can look at the record, jump on the bandwagon and say, 'Well, it's the same team (as the last two seasons)' …It's not the same team.

"If you watch the film, it's a completely different team. We're at the tipping point to where everything's going to come together and all of a sudden we're going to be blowing teams out."

Those are the words of a leader, and that darned sure is how the Jaguars see Miller.

He's not the Jaguars' most-gregarious locker-room presence; that honor goes to Marks, his dreadlocked teammate on the interior of the defensive line. But while Miller isn't as quick with a smile or quote as Marks, his words are well worth the wait.

"When he gets deep into something, it's usually the truth," Marks said. "He doesn't talk much, and when he does talk, he has that personality and that tone of voice where people listen."

That's the case pretty much anywhere behind closed doors at EverBank Field, and it's particularly the case when Miller speaks before games.

"Pregame, he's the one … the team rallies around him," middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "When we talk as a defense, he's very vocal. Guys really, really respect his opinion because his words matter. His words carry a lot of weight."

That's true, too, when Miller speaks to the media, which he does as professionally as any Jaguars player – win or lose. And when speaking to Miller after losses, it's impossible to not see the realness of which Posluszny and Marks spoke.

Miller believes in this team. He believes in its direction. He understands why observers may not agree, but understanding that in no way shakes Miller's belief.

He was asked this week what it would mean to see this thing turn, to win consistently after two and a half seasons under Bradley.

"It would mean a lot," he said. "Everything we put into it means a lot to all of us. All the hard work, all the belief, all the trust, the confidence … it has been a journey. It's something we definitely want to see. We've worked too hard all year-round. For the last three years we've been doing it.

"We're at the tipping point. It's going to happen."

This story is about more than off the field. On it, Miller has had his best season since joining the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent in 2013. Asked Wednesday if any Jaguars defensive player was playing as well as Miller, Bradley replied, "It would be hard to believe."

Posluszny was asked if the Jaguars would rank seventh in the NFL against the run without Miller.

"No," was the reply.

A big reason for Miller's level this season? After playing through injuries the past two seasons, including a torn labrum much of 2013, he is healthy this season – or as close to healthy as possible for a nose tackle.

"Now, you see him on film and you know he's feeling good when he can take on a double team and push a guy back," Posluszny said. "When he's healthy, you see him do some great things like that."

Could Miller make the Pro Bowl? It's possible, and he's deserving, but at the risk of being overdramatic, you get the idea the honor wouldn't mean as much as something else.

To hear Miller speak of the Jaguars' direction, to hear him after losses, is to believe that Miller's end-all would be to be around when this thing turns, to see the Jaguars become what he believes they can become.

To sit at his locker post-game and speak of winning, to talk about the work, the effort and the culture producing what he believed it would produce all along …

Overdramatic or not you get the idea that for Miller, little would be more right than that.

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