The common saying is the only thing better than having one of something good is having two. Is that true for the Chicago Bears?
Potential Miller teaming with Martellus Bennett creates mismatches
First and foremost, it’s very important to keep the gushing optimism in check. Zach Miller had an outstanding preseason debut and showed people he has the talent to make plays in the NFL. Still, there are reasons to be cautious. Miller has had problems staying healthy the past few years, missing the entire 2012 and 2013 seasons alone. One good hit could end his promising comeback before it starts. That being said, based on the flashes he showed, adding Miller to the offense offers an array of advantages.
At the top of course is depth. Having another pass catcher on the sideline would be a welcome relief in case starter Martellus Bennett went down with injury. At the same time, having two tight ends who can get down the field and make plays is a luxury only the best offenses in the league have. It creates mismatches in coverage, forcing not-as-athletic linebackers or not-as-big safeties to cover them and drawing defenders away from the receivers and running backs. Keep in mind Miller is 6’5″ so he’s yet another big target in a Bears offense oozing it. Imagine having him, the 6’6″ Bennett, the 6’4″ Brandon Marshall and the 6’3″ Alshon Jeffery on the field at the same time in the red zone. Defenses would have fits trying to cover it.
Marc Trestman play calling could get more creative for Jay Cutler
There is no question Jay Cutler would love that. After all, he demonstrated an early connection with Miller when they combined for the first touchdown of the preseason opener. However, the true value of having two tight ends comes via the playbook. Head coach Marc Trestman is one of the rising offensive minds in the NFL, and the last thing opponents want to see him have is more flexibility in his play calling.
That is what a second receiving tight end offers. It allows the offense to get creative with their formations. For example, what if on passing downs instead of featuring three receivers and a tight end, they instead roll out two receivers and two tight ends? The possibilities with that simple adjustment are endless because then the defense can’t tell if the offense will throw or if they might hatch a surprise with a run since they have the big bodies necessary to block. That is just one of many ideas Trestman can consider with two reliable tight ends.
There is also the winning considerations. Recent history shows that teams with multiple tight end sets have an easier time succeeding in the playoffs. The 2012, the San Francisco 49ers reached the Super Bowl with Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. In 2011 the New England Patriots fielded Pro Bowlers Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez on their way to the big game.
Zach Miller is a long way from becoming an offensive staple, but if he continues to trend up like he has, the Chicago Bears are in very good shape.