Recently during the mini camps that the Steelers are holding this offseason, tight end Heath Miller and Mike Tomlin both mentioned about the increased role that the tight ends may see this season under new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. NFL.com had an article about just this such topic but time will tell and we’ll believe it when we see it.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller is expected to play a key role as a receiver in new offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s system, Ed Bouchette reports in Thursday’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Haley is excited about what Heath Miller is capable of,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s been very clear about that, his excitement to work with Miller. I would imagine that the tight end is going to be a part of our plan.”
“I definitely see opportunities for that to happen,” said Miller. “That’s not to say there weren’t opportunities in the last offense. We (the tight ends) are going to be involved a lot.”
Being a bit skeptical is only natural and certainly not a knock against Todd Haley or what the Steelers are going to look to accomplish this year. After all, they never professed in the past to try and use the tight end in a more active role, even going back to the days of Bill Cowher. We as fans though have certainly longed to see it because we think it will bring more balance to the Steelers force, or just because Heath is so underutilized in our eyes.
As we all try to figure out what new wrinkles might be installed for the offense, inevitably there will be talk of the tight ends. It’s about as predictable as tax season and definitely more fun to talk about than Uncle Sam. Why don’t they use them more in the redzone, or why do they go away from them in the 2nd half? Perhaps our prayers will be answered in 2012, perhaps not, but if there was ever a time when the renewed hope might actually pan out into reality it’s this year.
Heath Miller has averaged about 48 catches per season during his NFL career with an average of over 10 yds per reception. His high point in action came in 2009 when he had 76 catches and 6 touchdowns. He’s certainly capable of an increased work load, and like we’ve always said around here, he’s money in the redzone. It seems like a crime that he’s only scored 31 TD’s since coming into the NFL in 2005.
Acquired free agent Leonard Pope averages about 17 catches per season and has 9 total TD’s to his credit. He was mainly used a blocker, something the Steelers definitely like. Just because he hasn’t been used much in the passing game though doesn’t mean he’s not capable. The Steelers never hinge their success on just one man at one position so expect Pope to see some action this year as well.
It would be unrealistic to expect the Steelers to use Heath Miller like the Patriots use Rob Gronkowski for example, it’s two different types of offenses. So needless to say we should take our hopes for seeing Heath used more, in stride and be sensible about it. A team with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jerricho Cotchery is going to spread the ball around and rightfully so. There’s only so many passes to go around but when you figure that Wallace or Brown will draw the double team the majority of the time, that’s going to leave Heath open more often than not.
Since Bruce Arians was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, and before that, the Steelers just never used the tight end the way most would prefer. Even with such a reliable, big target like Heath Miller, it’s just never been the focal point. Quite honestly it’s not going to be a focal point this year and that’s not a bad thing when you consider all the talented weapons Ben has at his disposal. Hopefully though it will be an option that Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger will look too just a bit more and make us all happy.
We Steeler fans are a fickle bunch to say the least, and quite opinionated at times, we always think we know best. Oddly enough we are right more often than others want to give us credit for.
In the end though all we want is touchdowns, sacks, and wins any way we can get them. Oh yeah and we want it done the Steeler way, but that’s another story for another time…