Anthony Miller 2017 Review Weeks 1-2
Anthony Miller had an outstanding 2017 season. When breaking down his play against UL-Monroe and UCLA, how did he look on tape?
With a long offseason ahead it is time to put every player under the microscope to see what is in store for 2018. We have extensively looked into Roquan Smith and now is time for Anthony Miller.
This series is going to be a game by game note diary of where Anthony Miller lines up, what routes he ran, and what exactly he looked like on tape. Every once and a while the occasional thought about what the Chicago Bears likely saw in him could come out.
We are going to breeze through week one because while Riley Ferguson was 2-8 in targeting Miller, that is nothing to get worried about. The game was played in Hurricane season and the conditions to pass were awful. In fact on two receptions for 23 yards and one rush for five yards, all of the work was created by Miller after the touch. Ferguson finished the game 10-25. He was done no favors and Miller did fine for his circumstances.
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We are going to get through Week One so fast because Week Two was a show out day for Anthony Miller. Nine receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns was had by Miller against quite possibly his stiffest competition of the season in UCLA. When Miller was on the field, no athlete was better that day.
Ferguson was 9-11 targeting Anthony Miller. Miller split time between the slot and outside, but six of his receptions came on the outside. He rushed the ball twice for 10 yards, and was 2-2 for 17 yards on curl routes, and 1-2 for five yards on crosses. The two crosses were worth noting, though. The first was an incompletion, but saw Memphis line him up flexed behind the line of scrimmage to try to flare him out into the flats. It resulted in an incompletion, but you know Matt Nagy is going to love the idea of putting him in a different spot. The other attempt was a five yard reception on third and two to seal the game late into the fourth quarter.
Now that the note keeping is done, let’s get to business. Anthony Miller torched UCLA. Four of his nine receptions went for over 30 yards including one of his touchdowns. The touchdown was completely created by Miller, although most of his statistics vs. UCLA were. Watch below as he is able to instantly freeze the defensive back, create immediate separation, track down the ball and finish in stride to lunge into the end zone.
Watch the quick step inside to get the cornerback to stutter. Two yards into a 33 yard touchdown and Anthony Miller had already won the route.
His biggest play of the game, a 41-yard highlight reel haul was won in a similar manner. Watch the head fake early into this route. He turns the cornerback and gets inside of him over the middle. The pass sails outside on him, but Miller shows the ability to track the ball, change his route path, and lay out to make this play.
Miller was dominant in his ability to get separation on what should have been higher caliber cornerbacks compared to what he is used to seeing. Watch the toe drag as he gets the cornerback leaning and then completely burns him over the middle with space. You can see the pass was not well placed, but Anthony Miller ripped off 25 more yards after the catch and could have turned this into a touchdown with a better pass.
Miller could have had two more touchdowns on each of the plays above with better passes. He still finished finished with 73 yards after the reception, making the most out of what he could. A poorly place pass almost cost Miller a touchdown, but Miller was able to haul in the pass and extend for the extra yard. He also turned a potential incompletion or two yard loss into an eight yard first down.
Miller was not flawless. One thing to note moving forward in this exercise will be his hands when it comes to catches in tight spaces. As noted, Riley Ferguson was not great, but both of his incompletions were situations in which Miller was in a contested catch situation and loss. The pass above is not perfect either, but Miller bobbling only made his task harder.
Still, there is no doubting how dominant this performance was and how it had to a have a huge impact on his NFL stock. We will continue to watch his 2017 and see how Miller builds on this.