View Full Version : Heath Miller Should Have A Big Season In 2012
05-26-2012, 04:49 PM
Heath Miller Should Have A Big Season In 2012
Saturday, May 26th, 2012
By Cian Fahey
ESPN AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley recently ranked Heath Miller as the third best tight end in the division. Hensley's argument was essentially based on production as a receiver. He, correctly, points out that Miller hasn't been an overwhelmingly good receiving tight end from a statistical perspective.
You think Miller cares? I doubt it.
While Miller won't care, I do. I can buy an argument that Jermaine Gresham is as good as, or even slightly better than Miler, but there is no chance that Ed Dickson is even near his level. Regardless of all that, Miller should prove statistic freaks like Hensley wrong this year.
The first thing you have to do with Miller is provide some context.
In the past two seasons, Miller has 93 receptions for just over 1,000 yards and four touchdowns. That is pretty average production for a tight end. There is good reason for that however. In the past two seasons, particularly last year, the Steelers' wide receivers stepped up and the offense looked to them as more explosive threats.
Miller spent a lot more time blocking in the passing game, at times even lining up in the backfield, opposed to running routes for Ben Roethlisberger. That should not happen too often this year for a number of reasons.
Obviously with their off-season investment in the offensive line, there will be less reason to ask Miller to stay in as a blocker in passing situations. If, as one would presume, Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are the team's starting tackles, the Steelers won't need Miller to line up in the backfield.
Gilbert and Adams will need help, but that help should come from Miller, or a running back, chipping rushers at the line of scrimmage. With Willie Colon inside also, Miller shouldn't have to protect the A or B gaps even without Mewelde Moore's presence in pass protection.
With Miller free more from pass protection responsibilities, his role as a receiver should increase.
Hines Ward's involvement in the offense may have diminished before he retired this off-season, but he remained Roethlisberger's most trusted target until his very last snap. Miller will take up that mantle now. He has proven in the past that he can be a possession receiver and has made plenty of clutch third down receptions over the years.
Miller is Roethlisberger's longest serving teammate on the offensive side of the football, unless you consider Trai Essex who hasn't always been under contract. While Jerricho Cotchery is a veteran with even more NFL seasons on his resume, Cotchery hasn't got the same experience with Roethlisberger.
For all the talent that Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace have, none of them will inspire confidence in Roethlisberger as much as Miller will in tense situations. Ward's receptions, not just his clutch receptions, will need to be spread out.
Miller should get a lot of those receptions, so maybe Hensley will actually talk some sense next year, even if he does so unknowingly.
05-29-2012, 05:51 PM
an opposing point of view:
4 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Could Take a Step Back in 2012
By Andrea Hangst (AFC North Lead Blogger) on May 29, 2012
With Todd Haley running the offense, Heath Miller's targets could be spread out among the other TEs on the roster.
New Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is a fan of receiving tight ends, which, on paper, makes it seem that Heath Miller is primed for a breakout season.
However, that's not necessarily the case. Miller's prime effectiveness is in the pass when it comes to being a receiver—now he's a far more effective blocker. And the Steelers brought on former Kansas City Chief and Arizona Cardinal (and thus, a Haley favorite) Leonard Pope in the offseason.
If Haley has his way, his two-tight end sets will have more passes going Pope's way than Miller's. And once the suspended Weslye Saunders returns, Miller's targets could decrease even further depending on what Haley has planned.
Last year, Miller caught 51 passes for 631 yards and two scores. This season, he may still be a strong red-zone option for Ben Roethlisberger, but his overall number of targets should be cut back, resulting in Miller making less of an impact.
05-29-2012, 07:32 PM
I would not expect Miller to all of a sudden put up huge stats, going on 30 and in his 8th year, he is pretty well defined. A good ( not great ) TE who is a very dependable blocker and a valuable team player
BR7 has lots of targets to spread it around to. Be interesting to see who gets the balls under Haley's system.
05-30-2012, 11:46 PM
Steelers tight end Miller respected for tireless work ethic
By Scott Brown - Tribune-Review
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Willie Colon was asked about who will handle the the leadership role on what is shaping up to be a very young offensive line.
Colon’s answer revealed as much about Heath Miller as it did his intentions to show the way to some of the Steelers’ young linemen.
“I try to take the Heath Miller approach and just flat out be the guy on tape that you see and say, ‘Hey, that’s how you work,’ ” said Colon, the seventh-year veteran who has moved from right tackle to left guard. “Every time I’ve looked at one guy who’s set the tempo, who’s just played (all out) besides Hines (Ward), it’s Heath. He blocks his tail off, he runs hard, he gets after guys, and there’s never any question about it. It’s just expected of him.”
It is a good thing others in the Steelers’ organization are so willing to talk about Miller since it is one of the few things he is unable or unwilling to do.
One of the most underrated and understated tight ends in the NFL could thrive in Todd Haley’s offense though it is too early to tell what role Miller will play in it.
Haley’s offense in two-plus years in Kansas City thrived in 2010 due in part to the emergence of rookie tight end Tony Moeacki, who caught 47 passes for 556 yards in helping the surprising Chiefs to an AFC West title. And in Miller, Haley has a tight end that is as complete as any in the game.
“If he was somewhere else that was pass happy like a Dallas Clark situation or like Tom Brady, that type of offense, he’d be a Pro Bowler every year,” Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote said. “A lot of these guys you see putting up these numbers, they stink at blocking, but Heath can do both.”
Miller, an eight-year veteran, is fourth on the team’s all-time receptions list with 337 catches. He will pass Louis Lipps and move into third place in 2012 barring a major injury.
“We’ve always had a lot of good players on offense here, and I think the more we spread the ball around and get everyone involved, the more difficult, in my mind, we would be to defend,” Miller said. “I don’t sit around and crave catching 100 balls. I just want to win and win Super Bowls.”
It is that kind of attitude that has endeared Miller to so many of his teammates, especially Colon.
“Just a silent killer man,” Colon said. “He never complains. When things get tough he gets tougher. He’s just the ultimate guy, and I look up to him so much. If there’s anyone I want to model myself after, it’s Heath.”
05-31-2012, 02:49 AM
The ball will be spread around well, after all we have 4 good WR's, a quick RB, and 3 TE's, but he can still have an efficient season.
05-31-2012, 05:56 AM
I could see Heath doing better in the redzone this year. I just don't think he will put up great numbers but better numbers then usual.
05-31-2012, 02:13 PM
Heath Miller’s role likely to grow in Todd Haley’s offense
Posted by Josh Alper on May 31, 2012
There’s been a lot of focus on the relationship between the new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this offseason.
While those two continue to build a working relationship with one another, the rest of the Steelers offensive players are figuring out their roles. Tight end Heath Miller has to like what he sees on that front.
Miller hasn’t lacked for opportunities in his years with the team. His 337 career receptions are the fourth-most in the history of the franchise and he has 93 catches for 1,143 yards and four touchdowns over the last two seasons. Those numbers could look even better this season. Early reports out of Pittsburgh are that Haley plans to make Miller a big part of the offense, something that Miller confirmed to reporters.
“I definitely see opportunities for that to happen,” Miller said, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities in the last offense. We are going to be involved a lot.”
Tight ends weren’t a big part of Haley’s offenses in Arizona, but Tony Moeaki did have 47 catches for the Chiefs when they won the division in 2010. Miller has had at least that many catches in four of the last five seasons and this year’s focus on protecting Roethlisberger while he throws high percentage passes could result in a lot of action for Miller.
06-01-2012, 06:25 PM
Steelers' Heath Miller aims for greater role in new offense
ED BOUCHETTE - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
First Posted: June 01, 2012 - 7:45 am
He has made a Pro Bowl, so it cannot be said that, as he approaches his 30th birthday, Heath Miller can become an overnight sensation. — He has been among the most popular Pittsburgh Steelers since they drafted him in 2005, and there was the Pro Bowl season of 2009, when he set a team record for tight ends with 76 receptions.
Yet, there always has been a sense around the Steelers that they did not use the 6-foot-5 Miller enough as a receiver, particularly in the shadows of the goal line. That happened even though his 337 receptions are second in franchise history among tight ends to Elbie Nickel, who some argue was more wide receiver than tight end.
And, it might be about to change.
Todd Haley's new offense promises many things, among them is making sure Miller is one of its receiving stars. At his Feb. 9 introductory news conference, Haley called Miller "one of my favorite players."
Coach Mike Tomlin elaborated.
"Haley is excited about what Heath Miller is capable of," Tomlin said. "He's been very clear about that, his excitement to work with Miller. I would imagine that the tight end is going to be a part of our plan."
It likely is the biggest part, in one sense, because the only unrestricted free agent the Steelers have signed is 6-8 tight end Leonard Pope, a veteran of six seasons in Haley's offense with the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs.
The new offense has emphasized protecting the quarterback, running more effectively and high-percentage passes. They've been working at it for two weeks in practices, and even Miller can see the possibilities for more receptions than he traditionally has seen in six of his seven seasons. His 51 receptions last season were the second most of his career.
"I definitely see opportunities for that to happen. That's not to say there weren't opportunities in the last offense. We are going to be involved a lot."
He has done that, whenever coaches and quarterbacks decided to go his way. Miller has missed four games in his seven seasons. He has not missed catching a football in any game, regular or postseason, since the middle of '08, when an ankle injury forced him out of the first half of a game in Washington against the Redskins, his 52nd consecutive start.
"From my point of view, Heath has always been a big part of the offense," Pope said. "Heath's a great player and a great person to learn from. I'm just happy to be here and playing with that guy."
The two could make an impression as bookends near the goal line and give Ben Roethlisberger those tall targets he has longed to have. The Steelers haven't worked much on red-zone drills this spring, but it would be surprising if Miller is not a big part of them. He has only 31 touchdown receptions, an average of a little more than four a season. In each of the past two seasons, he had two, his career lows.
"It's too early to tell," Miller said of Haley's red-zone plans. "We haven't been through it enough. Right now, we're throwing everything against the wall, putting it all in, and, when the season comes, when game-planning comes, it'll get pared down. That's when we'll see what we have and how we want to approach this."
If, when that happens, they continue to throw everything against the wall, chances are likely to increase that Miller will get the opportunity to catch it.
(Contact Ed Bouchette at bouchette(at)post-gazette.com.)
06-02-2012, 03:48 AM
Miller, Redman will be Used to Protect Roethlisberger
June 1, 2012
Every Steelers fan is aware that Ben Roethlisberger has taken too many hits during his NFL career.
Roethlisberger’s style of play has caused him to take more hits than he would have as a strict pocket passer, but Ben likes to make plays by moving out of the pocket and getting away from the rush. This allows his receivers to get open down field and has resulted in some big time plays for the Steelers over the years.
However, as Roethlisberger ages the Steelers are aware that he needs to begin taking less hits if he wants to stay in the league. New Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley will be working with Ben and the Steelers offense to reduce the amount of hits Roethlisberger takes from 2012 on.
With Rashard Mendenhall almost certain to miss the beginning of the season, due to an ACL tear he suffered at the end of the 2011 season, Issac Redman will be the primary back in the Steelers offense. Haley is expected to use the run game more often than his predecessor Bruce Arians. Redman also has the ability to catch the football out of the backfield and will be used as a check down receiver for Roethlisberger to look too. The Steelers have multiple running backs with the ability to catch the ball in Redman, Baron Batch, Chris Rainey, and fullback David Johnson.
Haley will also be looking to use TE Heath Miller more as a receiving target. Miller is one of the most underrated tight ends in the NFL and has shown throughout his career that he has reliable hands and the ability to get open. Roethlisberger will be asked to make quicker reads and to stay in the pocket more in 2012. If his initial reads are not open he will be expected to check down to his running backs and tight ends rather than trying to make plays by rolling out of the pocket.
The New England Patriots have excelled in this form of offense. Tom Brady makes quick reads down-field and will come back to his backs and tight ends if he doesn’t see an open receiver. These quick reads dismantled the Steelers defense multiple times and helped lead the Patriots to Super Bowl 5 times since 2001.
If you take away the 2008 season in which Brady missed all but one game due to a knee injury he hasn’t missed a single game since 2001. His health has been a factor of a great offensive line, something the Steelers are working on building, and an offensive that relies on quick reads and doesn’t allow the quarterback to get hit, something Haley will try to incorporate.
Roethlisberger is only 30 years old and has played 8 professional seasons in the NFL. However, if he wants to play another 8 seasons he will need to rely more on his check-down receivers than his legs to make plays when things break down. He can’t take as many hits as he gets older, something Roethlisberger is well aware of.
There has been a lot made of the relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger, but Haley could be just what Ben needs. If Roethlisberger can indulge himself in the new offense and keep himself healthy during the 2012 season he may be an MVP candidate by the end of the year. With the best offensive line Roethlisberger has ever had, or at least best since 2005, and more weapons than any Steelers quarterback has had in years, maybe even in history, Ben is poised for a standout year.
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