“Well, he’s getting more opportunities, for sure … Now, with all that said, right, we want to make sure we’re still homing in on the details,” Nagy said.
Mastering the finer points of playing wide receiver in Nagy’s offense has sometimes been a struggle for Miller — the 51st overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft — but the pure talent is undeniable.
Miller flashed glimpses last season as a rookie, when he led the Bears with seven touchdown receptions, despite playing for part of the season with a balky shoulder that ultimately required offseason surgery. Miller finished last season with 33 catches and had just one game of 100-plus yards receiving.
Miller got off to a slower than expected start this season but began to pick up steam two weeks ago, with six catches for 77 yards against the New York Giants.
On Thanksgiving, Miller finally put it all together with a career-high nine receptions for 140 yards, including a pair of clutch, 30-plus-yard catches from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky on Chicago’s game-winning drive.
“Mitch was throwing dimes out there. Dimes,” Miller said. “The ball was where it was supposed to be, and all I had to do was make the play. Mitch showed a lot of poise. Mitch is a guy, he studies a lot, he works very hard, so it doesn’t surprise me that we connected late in the game.”
Recently, teams have been double-teaming Allen Robinson, Chicago’s top receiver with 71 catches for 850 yards and five touchdowns, freeing Miller, whom Trubisky targeted a team-high 13 times last week.
“We knew we had man coverage [on the game-winning drive], and we kind of dialed it up for [Miller],” Trubisky said. “And we like Anthony on corners. He ran a great route on the 35-yard catch [on third-and-4 from the Bears’ 16-yard line] … I just put it in a spot where he could make the play, and he made a huge play for our offense.”
Trubisky went back to Miller four plays later for a 32-yard gain.
The key for Miller and Trubisky is to build on the momentum. Miller has yet to string together consecutive big games. Even after his effort against the Lions, Miller has just 38 receptions for 489 yards and zero touchdowns thus far in 2019.
All of those are reasons Nagy tempered his enthusiasm when asked to evaluate Miller’s overall performance.
“Numbers-wise, Miller has done a good job,” Nagy said. “But we can all still improve in some areas, and he knows that. That’s going to be important here moving forward: that [we] make sure that regardless of a stat line, that we make sure that on every play we’re doing the right thing all the time.
“I know he can be more detailed, and he will. I have all the trust in [wide receivers] coach [Mike] Furrey and Allen Robinson being great mentors. That’s what we’re striving for is perfection there in regard to details.”