Heath Miller Took His Lumps Against The Jets

By Matthew Marczi

After coming off a very strong game in terms of blocking against the Minnesota Vikings, tight end Heath Miller did not have such an easy time against the New York Jets this past week—and not just because he was beaten for a sack.

To be fair, Rex Ryan’s defense is more aggressive, more disciplined, and just all-around better than what the Vikings were able to offer, particularly up front, but whatever the case may be, the veteran Pittsburgh Steelers tight end took his lumps to go along with his highlights.

One aspect in particular that he had issues with was in the screen game, where Calvin Pace got the better of him twice by not locking in, which resulted in unsuccessful plays. Here it is on the first play of the game:

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Although he is ultimately able to seal Pace outside, Pace did his job by holding the edge and not relinquishing the outside. This allowed the rest of the defense to swoop in and wrap up the play for a short gain. Nearly the identical play happened again late in the third quarter:

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As was the case on the first play, it was a one-man screen with Miller lined up on the right and Antonio Brown outside of him. Once again, it was Calvin Pace holding the edge and preventing Brown from getting outside on the screen. This time, Brown nearly runs up Miller’s back before Antonio Allen drops him for no gain.

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Then here we are on a late-first quarter carry by Le’Veon Bell, in which he is looking to punch it through a hole made by Miller sealing off the outside linebacker and Ramon Foster pulling right to block out the inside linebacker. Instead, neither satisfactorily secure their blocks and both team up to make the tackle.

Most of the blame here goes on the blocking, though Bell’s impatience—despite having a defensive end trailing him—also contributed to the poor efficacy of this play. And it was just two plays later that Miller is beaten around the edge by outside linebacker Garrett McIntyre for a sack.

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There is really not too much going on in this play; it is simply one man winning his individual battle against another. McIntyre blocks Miller’s initial punch before knocking his arms down, and from that point on it is a footrace to the target, which the defense wins. Ben Roethlisberger had little hope of escaping that one.

By no means, however, was it all bad for Miller in this game, who had a season-high with 84 receiving yards, and I will be taking a look at some of the positives tomorrow.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • treeher

    On the first two wide receiver screens, Miller is the only blocker and there are at least three defenders in the area. I think these are poorly designed plays that don’t have a chance of success, unless they are designed to just get a couple yards. Even if Miller pancakes the guy, there are two others right there, undefensed.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    two things, brown cannot allow him self to get so close to the blocker before making a cut decision, he had a small opening to his left that would have picked up about 5 yards, and every time we pull the guard from the left side, he is too slow into the hole to make first contact, wastes too much time getting out of his stance.

  • Bill Molinaro

    treeher is right! Screens don’t work if the defense smells them out from the beginning. There are too many defenders in the area and I believe it’s because the Jets quickly diagnosed the play. On the running play the culprit is Foster more than Miller. If Ramon holds his block for more than a split second, the play works.

  • Bill Molinaro

    These screen plays demonstrate in Technicolor the fact that this is a team sport!

  • enz1ey

    Why is it that when breaking down unsuccessful run plays, it’s the ballcarrier’s fault 90% of the time for not instantly seeing a hole open up 5 yards away after he is already running past the LOS and making an impossible cut to hit it, but here it is all the (lone) blocker’s fault? Not Brown’s fault for cutting off his hip in a timely manner rather than dancing around, or the fact that, *gasp*, the Jets just made a great stop? The hate on Dwyer and petty critique of Bell is just uncalled for. Our OL doesn’t exactly allow for Pro Bowl-like stats, even if we had a Pro Bowl RB.

  • Madi

    Agreed. Miller’s blocks weren’t great on those plays, but they were blocks. And blocking one out of three guys is just never going to work for anyone. Those types of plays just don’t work when you’re outnumbered.