Le’Veon Bell just became available. This quickly set off a firestorm on Chicago Bears Twitter. Could the former All-Pro be a great addition to their backfield alongside David Montgomery? It’s hard not to think so. However, this euphoria of possibility made it easy to forget something the team already did. Signing Lamar Miller.
After Tarik Cohen tore his ACL against Atlanta, the team started their search for help at running back. Miller, having recovered from his own ACL injury the year before, was awaiting an opportunity after being released by the Houston Texans. He failed to crack the New England Patriots roster due to a crowded depth chart. So the Bears brought him in for a look.
They seemed to like what they saw and signed him to their practice squad. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune spoke to running back coach Charles London about it. Based on what was said, it’s pretty apparent the team feels they might have stolen a potential gem for their offense.
“I’m excited that he’s here. You know, last week was really his first week here, and it was really a different week because we played on Thursday night. It was more of a mental week. So I’m really looking forward to seeing him run around out there (Thursday), test the knee, get some confidence in it, and if Lamar’s healthy, he’s an explosive player. The last full season he played (2018 with the Texans), he was a Pro Bowl player. He’s got a really diverse skill set in the run game, protection, the pass. I look forward to seeing him go out there and competing.”
Lamar Miller could give the Bears something they’re missing
While the talk of Bell is fun, the reality is he wouldn’t add much of a new dimension to the Bears offense. He’d just make it deeper and tougher. Not different. The same might not be the case with Miller. One thing that became a trademark of his game over the past several years is speed. The guy could eat up ground at a rapid pace. Hence why he was also such a threat in the passing game.
That explosiveness was largely missing from the Bears backfield aside from the occasional times Cohen managed to get a good crease. With him gone, the absence of speed is even more noticeable. Unlike Bell, Miller could actually be a great compliment to Montgomery because their styles are so different. One is the hammer who wears defenses down. The other is the rapier who pierces through them with one stab after another.
One also can’t forget the coaching connection.
Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor knows the running back well. The two worked together for two seasons with the Miami Dolphins in 2014 and 2015. Miller probably had his best overall season in the former, running for a career-high 1,099 yards with eight touchdowns. An encouraging sign the Bears will know exactly how to use him.
Then there is London himself. Prior to arriving in Chicago, he was the running backs coach in Houston from 2014 to 2017. He worked two seasons with Miller. The two know each other well. This sort of familiarity offers plenty of hope the Bears understand exactly who they have and know what must be done to make him a success.
If they get the Lamar Miller of two years ago? This team just got a lot better.