No one came through in crunch time for Mitch Trubisky more than Anthony Miller on Thanksgiving.
The second-year receiver tracked down two monster third-down conversions past Lions high-priced nickel CB Justin Coleman on the game-winning drive, accounting for 67 of his career-high 140 receiving yards. Among Miller’s nine catches were two on the Bears’ other second-half TD drive, good for 20 and 12 yards.
“Those two catches and plays that he made with throws that Mitch made at that moment on third downs says a lot about who those guys are and how they’re growing together, Anthony and Mitch,” Matt Nagy told reporters Friday. “… Two big moments for those guys.”
After a quiet start to his sophomore campaign, Miller is on a three-game tear, amassing more than 55 percent of his production on the season. He’s showcased the explosive skill set the Bears gambled on last year when they traded a fourth- and 2019 second-rounder to New England to pluck Miller 51st overall.
Miller flashed outstanding competitive toughness as a rookie, battling through a chronic dislocated shoulder and torn labrum and still pacing the Bears with 7 receiving touchdowns. Yet he totaled only 33 catches for 423 yards (12.8 YPC) and at times struggled with his playbook and being a consistent pro.
Although Miller is up to 38-489 receiving after his banner Thanksgiving, Matt Nagy on Friday notably tread lightly in lavishing too much praise on his talented but volatile young receiver. Prior to his second-half eruption in Detroit, Miller lined up illegally coming out of a timeout and committed a key drop, continuing a troubling trend of costly mental lapses. Two weeks ago, he ran a route two yards too deep, contributing to a Trubisky interception. Earlier this season in London, Miller followed up an electric sequence of plays with back-to-back penalties for taunting and jumping offsides on a kickoff.
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“Well, he’s getting more opportunities, for sure. Now, with all that said, right? We want to make sure that we’re still honing in on the details,” Nagy said. “And so, numbers-wise, he’s done a good job. But we can all still improve in some areas and he knows that. That’s [going to] be important here moving forward that 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.”
He has shown the ability to ignite the Bears oft-lifeless offense like few others this season. Miller unfortunately has also proven to be the only person who can consistently slow down Anthony Miller. And he was very self-critical after the game regarding what he called “one of his worst” halves
“It says a lot. We just got the mentality of never quit,” Miller said. “We had [to] fight a lot of adversity today from penalties to drops to stuff like that. We feel like we can bounce back from anything.”
The Bears showed real resolve and upside in Detroit, even providing a tinge of hope that perhaps the season can be salvaged. But in the loaded NFC, the 6-6 Bears have no remaining margin of error. Miller is one of many responsible for the rocky operation on offense this season, but the spotlight is shining brightly on him on him after Thursday.
“We talk about Anthony and getting better at some details, but the thing I love about Anthony is he plays with extreme passion. And he’s ultra talented.
“… I know he can be more detailed and he will. I have all the trust in [WR] coach [Mike] Furrey and Allen Robinson being a great mentor. That’s what we’re striving for is perfection there in regards to details."