Anthony Miller: Same Old Story, Same Old Song and Dance

Jason Lieser at the Chicago Sun-Times highlights the problem with fluffy spring time comments as he addresses wide receiver Anthony Miller‘s situation with the Bears. He quotes receivers coach Mike Furrey on the matter:
‘‘’He’s starting to understand defenses and coverages and leverages — that stuff, it’s not just playground,’ [Furrey] said of Miller. ‘Now everything’s slowing down for him from a route-running standpoint. He gets in meetings, he can respond, he can communicate. He’s not tucking his hat down and [giving] one-word answers. ‘‘’He’s trying to learn. He’s dropped the ego of this whole Memphis thing. Now he’s coming here and learning from Allen Robinson, asking Allen Robinson, watching Allen Robinson. . . . If you’re starting to do that stuff, you’re definitely heading in the right direction and starting to grow individually.’’’ “Furrey thought the same thing last summer, however. Nearly one year ago to the day, he said of Miller: ‘I just held my breath, hoping that he was gonna go to the right place [in 2018]. . . . He’s come in now and understands what we’re doing. Now I believe everything’s gonna get better and better for him.’’’ “That proved to be false hope.”

It did, indeed. Miller disappeared and wasn’t really a factor until late in the season when he had a five-game stretch in which he had 33 catches for 431 yards and two touchdowns. That’s because, despite Furrey’s comments last season, Miller still didn’t mastered the details of playing the position. ‘‘One of our best players is not on the field,’’ Furrey said. ‘‘And the reason why [he wasn’t on the field] is because you can’t trust him.’’ I love the fact that Lieser pointed out that the rainbows and sunshine coach-speak surrounding Miller this season is the same as last season. I wish other writers did it more. For instance, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino went on and on last offseason about linebacker Leonard Floyd. Floyd went on to have a miserable year. His total inability to win one on one match ups completely destroyed the pass rush along with it as offenses focused almost completely on throwing men at stopping Khalil Mack. As a result, fans will never be able to trust anything he says about a player again. We’re in a similar situation with Miller, who is now entering his third year. Miller has shown flashes of ability that give fans hope that he could finally breakout. But so far, its been no bueno for the guy that Ryan Pace traded up to get in the second round of the 2018 draft. And that’s a problem because the Bears didn’t do that much at wide receiver this offseason. Similar to the situation along the offensive line, they decided to stick with the guys they have with only minor additions and depend upon better coaching and player development. This is what good organizations can do. Unfortunately, the Bears have failed to do it rather consistently on offense. The most notable failure in this regard was last years’ tight end situation where they stuck with Adam Shaheen and Trey Burton when many (including me) thought they needed help at the position. The result was disastrous. In any case, in finally addressing the situation at tight end this year they obviously hope that it will help solve the issues in the passing game. Certainly, at least as long as everyone is healthy, we can expect to see a lot of double tight end sets. But you still need wide receivers on the field and right now the only one the Bears can depend upon is Robinson.
Riley Ridley and Javon Wims have proven to be nothing special so far and I don’t see anything in their game that makes me think that’s going to change. Similarly, Ted Ginn, Jr. will be useful but he has proven that he isn’t going to provide the kind of consistent threat that the Bears need. And a fifth round pick like Darnell Mooney feels more like hoping to catch lightening in a bottle than something you can depend upon. So those passing game issues are going to remain prominent unless Miller finally gets it this year and provides another viable threat. It could happen. But I wouldn’t take Furrey’s word for it.

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