When the Jaguars came over to London last week for their International Series game against the 49ers, the Jags' PR staff granted us some exclusive one-on-one time with defensive tackle Roy Miller, who, along with his teammate Geno Hayes (who unfortunately we were unable to speak to), became the first players in NFL history to play three 'home' games at Wembley Stadium, having both been members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009 and 2011.
While we touched on a variety of topics, a majority of them were about the Bucs, who drafted Roy in the third round of the 2009 draft. The interview transcript is below, but the biggest take away for me was two comments he made - one about the team not re-signing him last offseason, and one where he quite clearly from his tone of voice put Mark Dominik, Greg Schiano and the ownership in three separate, distinct camps. The two comments did hint at significant disconnect between the power brokers at One Buc Place, and if I can find a way to clip out just that section of the interview, I'll edit it into this post later. Still, you can read from his words that not everyone's on the same page at OBP.
I'd like to thank SBMedia for taking the photo of me interviewing Roy (and for filming the interview), Ryan Robinson and Mike Farnham at the Jaguars' PR department, and of course Roy, for agreeing to the interview and being so open with his answers.
On Sunday, you and Geno Hayes will become the first players in NFL history to have played three 'home' games at Wembley Stadium. How does that make you feel?
Roy Miller: It feels good, man. It's a great place to come to, I just love the atmosphere, the fans. Just being in this place, the culture, it's always good to come here.
The Bucs took two different approaches with their two London games, arriving less than 48 hours before kick off the first time, and coming for the whole week the second time. Obviously the team lost both times, but which approach worked better in your opinion?
RM: I think coming here early is the right thing to do. A lot of guys want to come out here, do some things, you come here early and you give guys a chance to go out, do a few things and get it out of your head, so you can focus on what we've come out here to do. It's definitely exciting for us, coming to London, it's an exciting thing! But we have to focus on what we have to do, so it's good to come here early, guys can get that 'tourist'-type mentality out of their minds, and just focus. So I think it's a good thing to come out early.
Having done this twice before, you've got insight into how the travelling affects you, not just for this game but for the rest of the season. The Wembley game in 2011 was the start of the Bucs' 10-game losing streak; do you think that the travelling can affect you for the rest of the season?
RM: I don't think it's a bad thing, I just think that in our line of duty, you have to be able to respond and react pretty often to sudden change and all kinds of things, so I don't think it's too big to deal with. You just go home, get some rest and get back to it.
It's good to hear that the effects game doesn't carry on through the rest of the season, as obviously the NFL is putting more and more focus on London. Do you think there could be a full-time franchise here?
RM: I think so. They call it the National Football League but you've got to include everybody, all the countries should get a shot. Come out here, have a franchise here, I think it'd be great. I think the more we expand around the world, there's no telling [what could happen]. I mean, I watch rugby all the time, you see guys that, who knows? You watch them across the street (Pennyhill Park and Spa, where the Jaguars were staying, is also the official hotel of the English national rugby team) and they could have been the next great star in the NFL. I think it's a great opportunity for the league to expand.
Your first trip over, fourth quarter, Josh Freeman's first regular season snaps in the NFL. You tweeted the other day that you thought it was really sad he would be wearing a different jersey at this stage of his career, so I'm guessing you two are good friends. So, when he was released, did you go to coaches and say to them that he should be given a shot in Jacksonville?
RM: I try to stay away from that! I got a bunch of buddies, it's unfortunate when it's a guy who you like leaves a team... I believe in the coaches, I believe they do a great job here, but Freeman's a good buddy of mine, it's hard to believe because he was a franchise quarterback and I never thought I'd see him leave, so for me it was just hard to take in, but he's found a job.
I'd like to ask you some questions about the Bucs. Greg Schiano last year said that you were "custom-made" for his defense. Did that make it that much harder when the team chose not to re-sign you?
RM: It was rough. I don't think it had a lot to do with the coaches. I just knew I was going to be re-signed and I'd be back, but it worked out for me and I'm excited to be part of this team. I never thought I'd be leaving Tampa, but it happens, you have to move on.
Coach Schiano is under a lot of fire at the moment, between the Bucs not doing well and all the stories of the media, would you like to make any statements about Coach Schiano? He obviously came in after a very different regime under Raheem Morris, how do you compare the two coaches?
RM: It was definitely a culture change. Coach Rah, he was a lot different. Coach Schiano came in and everybody appreciated it a lot, just hard work, the details and everything, we all appreciated it. It was a good thing for us, we needed it. I think at his heart, Coach Schiano just wants to win. He's willing to do anything he can to win for his team, he cares about his team, he's a great guy. I really don't know what's going on [at the Bucs], I hear a lot of things about this player, that player, there's two sides, it's hard to tell. You've got the GM. You've got the head coach. You've got the owners, and they're all making their decisions. But like I said, Coach Schiano, at heart he's a great guy. He just wants to win. I truly believe the decisions he makes are for the best of the team, but like I said, as far as personnel and all that, I can't speak a whole deal about that.
RM: Really? I never heard about that.
You're now reunited with (Jaguars and former Buccaneers defensive line coach) Todd Wash. What's it like playing under Coach Wash again?
RM: It's great, I really like the scheme, mixing up 3-4 and 4-3, just looking forward to getting healthy (Roy was limited in practice throughout last week) and getting out there and playing in a great scheme. He's a great coach, like you said I had him in Tampa, he's been around the best and I think he's one of the best coaches in the NFL. I knew he was here, I talked to Gus [Bradley, Jaguars' HC] and I was like, "I've got to come here". Coach Gus is the most positive guy I've ever been around, all the time. He doesn't just say it, he truly is always walking around with a smile on his face, happy, always positive. Being around those guys, and Wash, I thought "man, I've got to come here".
Last year the Bucs signed Carl Nicks. What was it like going against him, in training and when he was with the Saints?
RM: Oh man, I definitley believe he's one of the top two guards in the league. That guy, he's big, he's strong, he can pass block, he can do everything. It was rough going against him in training camp, but you knew in the back of your mind you had to focus on how he was going to make us better in the long run. Going against him and Davin and Zuttah, if we just kept going [against them] then the game will slow down for us, and it helped us out a lot.
You play 1-tech in the four-front, which is quite a selfless position since your job is more to occupy the blockers to let the 3-tech and the ends make plays. What kind of mentality do you need to play the 1-tech?
RM: You've got to be selfless. A lot of times you're asked to chase the center, and a lot of times you take yourself out of the play. You know the play might be going the other way, but you've got take out that guy for the sake of the 3-tech. You've just got to be accountable, have respect for the defense and do what you have to do. You've got to be tough, hard-nosed, and sacrfice every play for the team. It's a tough gig, but just like you do your job, I felt I was made to do mine. It's just who you are.
Who would you say is the best player you've ever played alongside, at college or the NFL?
RM: I've played with so many.
You can give a top three if you want?
RM: I don't want to leave anybody out! Brian Orakpo, Henry Melton, he's another Pro Bowler. Gerald McCoy, definitely. There's some more, but that's three right there. Gerald's a beast, man. He needs a little help down there, he's winning consistently and it's kind of hard to watch, because you see him, he's coming in and the quarterback just runs away.
Talking about needing to get Gerald McCoy help, that's not helped by all the stunting that the Bucs have done under Schiano, could you talk about the challenges you found with all the stunts?
RM: It's very difficult, because when you stunt a lot, you have to be precise. You talk about taking away a guy from taking a double team to now having a single blocker. When you stunt you become single-blocked so everybody has to be accountable to their gap, and they have to work in blitzes behind because if you don't, it leaves a big seam, and that's why Schiano was so tough on us, "you've got to get to this gap, you've got to do this" because we stunted so much. But like I said, you've got to be precise. It's something that, it's kind of like a dance. Everybody has to be exactly where they're supposed to be, or else the whole thing falls apart.
Final question - now that the Jags are coming over for the next few years, what do you think about London as a city, is it somewhere you'd consider spending time after your playing days?
RM: Man, I'm driving down town and I can see myself living out here. It's kind of hard because you got your family back home, but i can see myself coming out here and staying. It's a beautiful city, I love the countryside (Pennyhill Park is situated on the rural outskirts of London), it's a wonderful place. You've got down town and it's booming, all different types of cultures and people, all different types of food and restaurants, it's a wonderful place. I think that I wouldn't mind coming back here and living here.