Seems like Bears should have gone with a bit more Miller Time

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles (9) fakes a hand off to running back Lamar Miller during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Chicago.

    Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles (9) fakes a hand off to running back Lamar Miller during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 11/18/2020 6:16 PM

One of the biggest take-aways from Matt Nagy's conference call with reporters Tuesday was that the Bears' coach expects his assistants to grade each player's performance through 10 games.

The reason is simple -- Nagy wants to formulate a plan that can help his team break out of its funk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The exercise is meant to make sure the Bears are putting each player in the best position to succeed.

Makes sense, right?

But shouldn't that be happening already? This is the NFL, after all, and you don't win by limiting your best players on game day.

This brings us to the very interesting case of running back Lamar Miller. With starter David Montgomery unable to face the Vikings on Monday, the Bears activated Miller from the practice squad.

Miller, an eight-year veteran who hadn't played in a regular-season game since 2018 and tore his ACL in the 2019 preseason, has been with the Bears since October 5. With six weeks to prepare, one would think he could have given a struggling offense a serious shot in the arm.

Instead, Miller had 2 catches for 6 yards during a 19-13 loss. Return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson led the rushing "attack" with 30 yards on 12 carries, while Artavis Pierce had 3 carries for 9 yards. Ryan Nall also carried once for zero yards.

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So what happened?

"Each guy had a little bit of a package," said running backs coach Charles London. "All four guys had practiced hard all week, so (we) felt like they all deserved the opportunity to play. They each had a role. Some guys roles expanded a little bit more than others."

Two questions here:

1. With the way the offense is struggling, why complicate things by trying to involve FOUR running backs?

2. Doesn't it make sense to throw Miller -- who has 5,864 career rushing yards, 211 career receptions and 40 career touchdowns -- into the feature role? Obviously, the answer is no if Miller doesn't understand the offense, or if he's not 100%.

But if we take London at his word, that's not the case.

"He understands all the runs; he understands the protections," said London, who coached Miller for two years when both were with the Texans. "I have 100 percent confidence in him there.

"Having seen Lamar before ... he's as close as I've seen him to being himself. He has all the confidence in the world in his knee. The explosion's there, the burst is there."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It sure looked that way on Miller's first reception when he took a short pass, turned upfield and sprinted out of bounds for a 7-yard gain. That was on the Bears' fourth play from scrimmage, but Miller only touched the ball one other time.

Look, it's entirely possible the Bears didn't want to throw too much at Miller in his first action in almost two years. That's a long time between games and it's difficult to know how he'd react.

Still, if Miller's truly 100 percent he really should have touched the ball at least a half-dozen times.

We'll see if the Bears rectify this situation if Montgomery can't face the Packers on November 29.

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