While all is not lost for the Chicago Bears (3-2), the team is currently facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. Beyond that, wideout Anthony Miller is dealing with what appears to be some frustration currently.
Under second-year head coach Matt Nagy, the Bears have the most difficult schedule in the league ahead of them, and they have looked even worse on offense this season then they did and Nagy’s first year in 2018.
The Bears have not been able to run the ball effectively all year, largely due to an offensive line that has been both undisciplined and underachieving. Their passing game hasn’t really taken off either, save for the excellent and elite play of Allen Robinson.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises surrounding the Bears offense, however, is who has been on the field the most–and who hasn’t. Much has been made of the lack of playing time and opportunities given to the Bears’ second-year standout wide receiver in Miller. And entering the Bears bye week, it seems as though Miller is showing some major frustration on social media.
Anthony Miller Has Shown Frustration on Social Media
After the Bears lost last Sunday to the Oakland Raiders in what was a dismal showing on both sides of the ball, Miller took to Instagram to share a photo of his excellent 32-yard catch. Miller also had a few errant plays and penalties in the game, and when a few fans ribbed him a bit, instead of ignoring them, he responded by insulting some of them instead:
Then, almost a week later, on Friday, Miller shared pictures of his former wide receivers coach in college with the caption: “Facts. Best Coach Ever.”
Miller was referencing David Johnson, his former wide receiving coach at Memphis, who is currently the running backs coach for Tennessee. Miller and Johnson worked together for two seasons, and Johnson has spoken very highly of Miller, praising his work ethic and relentlessness.
So was Anthony Miller taking a slight jab at his current coaches, or was he giving a shout out to a coach he admires? On its own, calling another coach the “best coach ever” while also noting that it’s a fact isn’t necessarily bad or wrong for an athlete to do while he’s currently playing for a different coach. But it’s not the most considerate and drama-free thing to do, either, especially in context with everything that’s been going on with Miller already this season.
Anthony Miller Has Not Played Much This Season
After leading the team in touchdowns last year with seven as a rookie, through five games so far this season, Miller has caught eight passes for a total of 80 yards, and he hasn’t yet reached the end zone. Miller was predominantly absent from the Bears’ Week 1 loss to the Green Bay Packers, and when he was asked why he wasn’t on the field after the game, he didn’t exactly sound happy about it:
“My ankle was 100 percent. I was good. I was ready,” he said. “That was frustrating…But not much I can do about that. Just focus on the next week and hopefully I’ll get more opportunities.”
Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey responded to this by saying some pretty revealing things, as well:
“A lot of it was the nature of the game. A lot it was some stuff that we had set for (Tarik Cohen). Collectively, Anthony missed a lot of training camp and a lot of OTAs, so to be out there and to be consistent and to ask him to go in there, I just didn’t feel comfortable enough to say hey, ‘let’s go out there and put you in for 60-some plays. You haven’t done anything yet.’ You know? So let’s get out there and get consistent with what you have and line up and go in there and do what you’re supposed to do and he did.”
Let’s unpack both of those statements. In Miller’s response, he admitted to feeling frustrated, and he indicated that he was baffled by his lack of playing time, noting that he was 100 percent ready to go. If Miller was familiar with and included in the team’s game plan and playbook, why wasn’t it communicated to him how little he was going to play? Why did he literally voice frustration?
As for Furrey’s response, if “stuff was set” for Tarik Cohen, wouldn’t Miller have known about it going into the game? Furrey also noted he “didn’t feel comfortable enough” with Miller to play him for more than 16 snaps, which is hugely concerning considering Miller was in this offense the entirety of last season and should be as familiar with it as everyone else.
If something else is going on with Miller, Furrey didn’t mention it at the time, other than indicating Miller missed time due to recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. There have been vague mentions in the past by the Bears’ coaching staff when alluding to Miller’s lack of playing time, that suggest he may not have his route running down, and that he still doesn’t have a comprehensive understanding of the playbook.
At the very least, communication seems to be sorely lacking in Chicago–and considering the emphasis Matt Nagy has put on the importance of communication in the past, this seems odd and out of character for this Bears team.
What Does Situation With Anthony Miller Mean?
Wims barely saw the field last year, but he has shown great potential and has now seen more action than Miller. Miller was supposed to be the team’s number two wide receiver this season. He’s currently their number four in terms of playing time.
So what does it all mean? Possibly nothing. But on top of all that has happened with Miller just six weeks into the NFL season: his expression of frustration, his bickering with fans on social media, his lack of snaps in a year that was expected to be his breakout year–it is a bit eyebrow-raising. And it’s also interesting to note that he sees none of his current coaches as some of the best coaches ever.
The Bears will return to action Week 7 against a very tough Saints team. If there is some continuing disconnect and conflict with Miller and his coaching staff, it will likely emerge sooner rather than later. The Bears and their fans certainly hope that’s not the case.