As we continue to get ready for the 2010 season, let’s play some over/under. Today’s topic: Heath Miller
When the Steelers drafted Heath Miller prior to the 2005 season, I remember being involved in a number of debates as to why the Steelers, a team that never fully utilized the tight end position (at least not since Eric Green was patrolling the middle of the field) would use a first-round pick on a tight end.
Five seasons later, there’s no longer much of a debate: Miller is simply one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL, and is coming off a career season that saw him haul in 76 passes for over 780 yards. The question, of course, is can he duplicate — or improve on — such numbers?
During the 2009 season, only three tight ends caught more passes than Miller: Dallas Clark, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates. Impressive, but not quite as impressive as the fact he was only 10th among tight ends when it came to actual targets. His catch percentage, via Football Outsiders, was a league-best 78 percent. Needless to say, he’s as reliable as they come.
But can he repeat those numbers?
Working In His Favor: With Santonio Holmes — targeted 138 times last season — no longer on the roster, there’s going to be more opportunities to go around in the passing game. And with as good as Miller is, and as reliable as he’s proven to be, it’s only natural to assume he could see even more passes headed in his direction.
Working Against Him: The Steelers have talked quite a bit this offseason about wanting to get back to the running game a little bit more (though, Bruce Arians has said they need to run the ball “better,” not necessarily more often) and, assuming the ball is in the hands of Rashard Mendenhall more often, it won’t be in the air quite as much. Also: No Ben Roethlisberger for at least four games.
So here’s the question for Heath Miller: Over/Under 70 catches in 2010. Cast your vote…