2015 Chicago Bears Grades: Zach Miller emerges
2015 Chicago Bears Grades
After suffering a season-ending injury in the 2014 preseason, tight end Zach Miller showed his worth to this Chicago Bears offense. Miller broke out in his return to the Bears and might have a case for being the tight end of the immediate future.
That is if the Bears decide to move on from Martellus Bennett.
It seemed like 2015 might have been the breaking point between Bennett and the Bears organization, as they could part ways this offseason. The 28-year-old is under contract through the 2016 season but with that up in 2017, the team could explore a trade. It wouldn’t shock me at all if Bennett was moved this offseason as General Manager Ryan Pace could likely get a draft pick in return.
The so-called problems with Bennett stem from his contract dispute last offseason where he missed the entire voluntary portion of workouts. He then openly-questioned his role in the Bears offense before landing on injured reserve in December.
Pace dismissed any thought of a “rift” between the Bears and Bennett in early January, saying there was no problem at all. He then went on to compliment Bennett for his play.
“Martellus, as you guys know, is a versatile player,” Pace told the media via ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson. “He’s very athletic for his size. He’s a good blocker, good receiver, and good in the red zone. Unfortunately he got hurt. The first thing is he’s got to get healthy, you know? But I think everybody, all of our players are going to try to get better for next year, including him. The first thing is he’s got to get healthy and we’ll go from there.”
But as we prepare for a busy offseason ahead, the thought is that Bennett is as good as gone. That’s where Miller enters the picture.
Miller is a free agent this season but would likely come back to the Bears on friendly deal. The 31-year-old finished with 34 receptions, 439 yards and five touchdowns. All were career-highs for Miller who really broke out when Bennett missed a few games.
His most notable touchdown came in week nine against the San Diego Chargers when he hauled in this touchdown pass from Jay Cutler:
Miller followed that up with a five reception, 107 yard and two touchdown performance against the Rams the following week. He even finished the season as a top 10 tight end according to the Pro Football Focus grading system. His ability to play well this season will also have an impact on what they do with Bennett.
Bennett had his worst season statistically as a member of the Bears, but injuries had a big part in that. Still he managed to catch 53 passes for 439 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also a favorite target of Cutler which we really saw in his first two years with the team.
The one thing he does need to improve on is his blocking skills, which haven’t been what the Bears have wanted over the last few seasons. If Bennett can turn that around and have a nice offseason, he could earn himself another deal.
He might be a little goofy, but Bennett is still a solid player. And he’s a player that the Bears offense could use next season.