Chicago Bears Potential Breakout Players: Zach Miller


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The 2015 Chicago Bears have new upper management, a new coaching staff, new schemes on both sides of the ball and plenty of new players. It will most likely be a transition year for the Bears as players struggle to learn the new schemes and the new coaches expectations, but the upside of all this change is opportunity. Multiple positions are up for grabs on both sides of the ball and I expect there to be plenty of new starters for the Bears this season.

I’ve been covering Bears players that I feel could be poised for breakout seasons and have already posted defensive breakout prospects, new Bears WR Eddie Royal, and 3rd-year WR Marquess Wilson. Today I’m covering tight end Zach Miller.

Zach Miller

As of today Miller is still healthy, but who knows how long it will last. I joke, but with Miller’s bad luck it’s almost expected that he will get hurt sometime soon. He’s missed the last three seasons with three different injures suffered before the season started. I can’t remember seeing an NFL player with worse injury luck.

Miller was a QB in college, but switched to TE due to ideal measurements for the position. He’s listed at 6’5 | 235, ran a 4.53 40-time, a 1.52 10-yard split (1.67 is average for TEs), and had one of the best SPARQ scores from a tight end in the last ten years. Miller’s experience at QB gives him a unique edge in reading defenses and his size and elite athleticism makes him a challenging cover for linebackers and safeties.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Miller was a popular breakout pick last season after his impressive performance in his first preseason game against the Eagles. Playing with the first string offense, Miller had 6 catches for 68 yards and 2 TDs. The numbers were impressive, but how he got them is what stood out.  There was a play where he caught a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage then broke 2 tackles and juked another defender on his way to a 17-yard gain. Miller showed the toughness to break tackles, the agility to elude defenders, and the talent to gain yards after the catch.

Martellus Bennett is the clear-cut #1 TE and is back in camp after a mini-holdout, so Miller isn’t going to be in the starting line-up week 1 this season. The Bears will run plenty of double tight end sets though which should get Miller on the field for around 500 snaps¹ this season. That will be more than enough time for Miller to show off his receiving ability and red zone potential. If Bennett were to get injured at any point this season, Miller is the only TE on the roster who has anywhere close to Bennett’s talent and he could provide similar production if forced into the starting lineup.

Hopefully Miller will stay healthy for the first time in four years and give the Bears the dynamic #2 TE they have been missing the last few seasons. His size will be a weapon in the red zone, he has the speed to make things happen after the catch, the awareness to find holes in defensive zones, and showed a solid rapport with Cutler in a limited audition last preseason. If the football gods let Miller make it though a full season without injury, he may finally be able to show his talent and have a breakout season as the Bears #2 TE.

¹ Roughly what Broncos backup TEs have averaged the last few seasons under Fox and Gase.

Next: Chicago Bears Potential Break Out Players: Marquess Wilson

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