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Breakout Season for Miller?

Lots of us have talked about how TE Heath Miller was under-utilized last year. For whatever reason, he just didn't have his number dialed nearly as often as we thought it would be given his very impressive rookie season in 2005. Miller's receptions, receiving yards, and TD numbers all regressed last year from 2005 despite the Steelers throwing the ball what seemed to be nearly 50 times per game for most of the season.

We usually don't turn to ESPN's junior columnists, but since news is so slow lately, we'll pay heed to Jeffri Chadiha's prediction that Heath Miller will have a breakout season this year.

Chadiha gives little to no explanation at all as to why he thinks this other than citing that he keeps hearing that new OC Bruce Arians plans to get Miller the ball more frequently. Whatever, I don't disagree with him although I would argue that it's possible that Miller may not have gaudy numbers this year, even though I believe he'll have more of an impact on our squad than he did in 2006. I mention his stats because I think it's highly unlikely (barring a Willie Parker injury) that we see Roethlisberger throw 30+ passes on 8 occasions like we did last season. (Quick note, in those 8 games that Roeth had 30 or more attempts, our record was 1-7).

The man is good enough to have a candy bar made in his honor, can we get him the damn football??

A couple thoughts about why Miller coule be more succesful this year. For starters, Hines Ward should be healthy (fingers crossed). If Hines isn't effective and doesn't command much attention from the safetys, there's going to be little to no room for Miller over the middle. Also, Santonio Holmes was not much of a threat during his raw rookie campaign. However, he turned it up towards the end of the season, and you better believe that defensive coordinators are going to be aware of the threat he poses on the perimeter--this should free up some space that wasn't there last year for Heath. Finally, Big Ben will hopefully be healthy. It's hard to survey the field when you're skittish in the pocket. I felt like Roethlisberger would too often hone in on his outside guys in his early progressions last year because he just wasn't quite comfortable hanging in the pocket and going through his reads. Doing so should lead to a few more opportunities for our big, swift, talented TE. I sure hope so because he's definitely one of the better TEs in the NFL.