By Matthew Marczi
Yesterday, we took a look at some of the lowlights exposed in tight end Heath Miller’s game against the New York Jets, during which he struggled to block on screen passes and also relinquished a sack. Yet he also managed a season-high in receiving yards that game, so it clearly could not have been all bad, so now it is time to take a look at some of the positives from Miller in the last game.
Here he is being active in the running game, throwing a solid block on the edge on Calvin Pace, which opens up one of the few running lanes that Le’Veon Bell had all day. Unfortunately for all parties involved, a holding penalty on Kelvin Beachum brought this one back.
Also note that the inability of Beachum and Will Johnson to sustain their blocks on this play is what causes the run to die where it does. Miller walls off Pace long enough to get Bell through the hole. He should have had a clear path, or at least a one-on-one opportunity against a defensive back, out of this with proper blocking.
A few plays after that aborted carry, Miller gave up his first sack of the year to Garrett McIntyre, being beaten soundly off the edge. But he made up for it on the next play.
The Steelers are essentially in a three tight end set here, with Johnson filling that role, lined up outside of Miller, who is lined up outside of David Paulson. All three spread their routes, with Miller going down the seam. In reality, Miller should not have even been allowed to get into position to make this grab by the defensive back, who never gets his head turned around.
Perhaps Ben Roethlisberger noticed this; or, perhaps he just has a whole lot of trust in his tight end to give him the chance to go up and make a play. On this occasion, he does just that, making a nice adjustment to bring the pass in 31 yards down the field.
Here we have a decent blocking set up that should get Le’Veon Bell one-on-one with a defensive back. Miller does his part against the defensive end, and Jerricho Cotchery lands his block, but Emmanuel Sanders does not get enough here on Antonio Cromartie, which allows the defense to pinch in on Bell.
Even though Bell ends up trucking the defensive back he should have been left isolated with, the delay provided by the pinch allows the rest of the defense ample opportunity to catch up to the play, especially after the corner gets his hands on Bell’s foot, which ends up going for just two yards, despite some fine blocking by both Miller and Cotchery.