With the 51st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Anthony Miller out of the University of Memphis. Miller was a promising receiver with the potential to add a spark to Chicago’s offense. The Bears believed this so strongly that they sacrificed future assets in order to trade up for him.
Miller was fine in his first two seasons, scoring seven touchdowns his rookie year and gaining 656 yards on 52 receptions in 2019. However, he did not impress as much as the Bears hoped and was inconsistent. He then regressed in 2020, with 49 catches for 485 yards. Miller’s attitude is also in question, especially after his ejection in Chicago’s sole playoff game last year.
Miller is on the verge of being labeled a bust. However, it might not be too late for him if he can be more consistent. This begs the question: can Anthony Miller succeed with the Bears?
Can Miller Rebound
After a rookie season with a lot of promise, Anthony Miller has disappointed. He has 4 combined touchdowns in the past two seasons and his production did not significantly increase. Miller has one year left in his contract, and if he wants a big payday next offseason, he will have to rebound upon past failures.
It does seem like the Bears coaching staff still believes in Miller. Wide receiver coach Mike Furrey told the media that “Anthony’s been in our meetings, he’s been doing a great job,… He’s growing up, he’s maturing, he’s understanding all the things that we’ve talked about really for the last couple years.” Meanwhile, head coach Matt Nagy said “We’ve had some really good discussions with Anthony recently that have been extremely healthy. Anthony has done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s one of the most competitive players I’ve ever been around”
As hopeful as they make Miller’s development sound, it is hard to believe at this point. In the summer of 2019, Furrey claimed “He’s come in now and understands what we’re doing. Now I believe everything’s gonna get better and better for him.’’ He said a similar thing in the summer of 2020, and now the coaches are once again declaring their confidence in Miller. When will their praise actually show up on the field?
The thing working in Miller’s favor this upcoming season is the change in quarterback. After dealing with Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniel and Nick Foles over the first three years of his career, playing with potential superstar Justin Fields will be a nice change of pace. Even if Fields does not start right away, veteran Andy Dalton is a solid quarterback who could help Miller progress.
After multiple disappointing seasons for Anthony Miller, it is tough to trust the Bears coaching staff when they praise him. However, Miller could potentially have a bounce back season as there will be a quarterback change in Chicago and he is especially motivated considering it is a contract year for him.
Miller’s Relationship with Chicago
Although there is a possibility that Miller could turn it around, it is uncertain how happy he is in Chicago. There have been multiple dramatic incidents between Miller and the Bears.
Most recently, wide receivers coach Mark Furrey bluntly told the media that if Miller doesn’t perform, “we don’t need [him]… we’ve got guys that are going to be able to produce.” Although Furrey’s message to Miller was simply that he better step up his game, it could easily be misconstrued. If he were to look at through the wrong lens, Miller might think that his coach was expressing that they do not want him.
Around the time of the draft, the Bears were also reportedly trying to trade Anthony Miller for draft picks. They were unable to get a deal done, and therefore, he remains on the roster. This report cannot feel good for Miller, as he once again seems expendable to the team.
Another source of drama was Matt Nagy’s interview after the Bears playoff game last season, in which Miller was ejected. His ejection came after an altercation with Saints safety C.J. Gardner Johnson, a known instigator of fights. Nagy basically threw Miller under the bus upon addressing the media.
Matt Nagy said the Bears had a meeting about C.J. Gardner-Johnson, where they studied his actions and told the players to avoid getting into it with him.
Anthony Miller and Gardner-Johnson got into it during the game, and Miller got tossed. pic.twitter.com/MdYmpoAPPR
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) January 11, 2021
Many of these instances can be blamed on Miller. However, it is unlikely that Miller is happy with the way Chicago handled those situations. Although the Bears might praise him and his development, the two sides clearly have some issues to work out.
Maybe it is true that this is the year for Anthony Miller. A quarterback change in Chicago might end up helping Miller with his development and morale. The opportunity to make more money in the offseason might help motivate him. However, Miller’s history with the Bears makes it hard to believe that he will succeed in Chicago.
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