When Marquess Wilson went down with a broken clavicle, many wondered how the Chicago Bears would replace him at receiver. Is Zach Miller their unlikely answer?
Miller pairing with Martellus Bennett opens up playbook
Nobody really knew who Zach Miller was before the start of the preseason. All they knew was that he boasted the same exact name as a guy who just helped Seattle win the Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl in 2010. Then in one half of football he made six catches, including two touchdowns and instantly had fans and media scrambling to figure out where he came from. Miller has fought through a lot during his five-year career, mostly regarding injuries that would’ve broken lesser men. Finally healthy, he’s getting a chance to show what he can do for the Chicago Bears.
His timing couldn’t be better. The team was in the throes of disappointment when news hit that promising second-year receiver Marquess Wilson was lost for the next two months with a broken collarbone. Many wonder how his potential impact for the offense would be replaced. After all, neither Eric Weems nor Josh Morgan boast the same matchup problems he would’ve.
Then, in a remarkable twist, Miller appeared. Suddenly the idea shifted from replacing Wilson with another receiver to replacing how the offense creates the desired matchups. What better way to do it than with two tight ends who can catch the football? After all, Martellus Bennett is a proven target in their system. By adding a second threat in Miller, who has a 6’5″ frame, good hands and quick feet, the Bears have another quadrant of the playbook open to them that wasn’t last season.
NFL playoff contenders are often rich at tight end position
What makes this development even more exciting is the effect it can have on their NFL playoff aspirations. It turns out that teams generally thick at the tight end position tend to do well. Looking back at those who made it to January this past season, there are a few examples.
San Diego Chargers (Antonio Gates and Lardarius Green)
Philadelphia Eagles (Brent Celek and Zach Ertz)
Cincinnati Bengals (Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert)
New Orleans Saints (Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson)
Traditionally having two tight ends on the field meant more blockers for the running game, but over the past few years it has turned into a way to attack defenses with bigger, athletic pass catchers. That is what teaming Bennett and Miller together would do for Chicago. It would put a fourth target on the field for Jay Cutler over 6’4″, which is what Wilson was supposed to do and if nothing else creates confusion for the opposing defense.
Zach Miller may not become a superstar for the Bears in 2014, but if he can offer them that elusive fourth pass catching option, he will have done the team a great service.
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