What occurred to Bucs broad receiver Scotty Miller?
Simply two years in the past, he was truly main the Bucs with 400 yards receiving previous to Antonio Brown’s arrival. He made a daring landing catch proper earlier than halftime within the NFC Championship Recreation win at Inexperienced Bay.
Miller’s 2021 season was practically over simply because it was getting began. A extreme turf toe damage in a Week 3 loss at Los Angeles prompted the Bucs to place the speedy receiver on injured reserve for many of his third season. When he returned to motion later within the season, he simply wasn’t the identical participant.
“I feel final yr was sort of bizarre,” Bucs broad receivers coach Kevin Garver stated Tuesday. “He went out with the damage. And with the timing of it, different guys sort of stepped up in that place and in that function. So, it sort of made it slightly more durable for him to get again instantly.”
With Miller sidelined many of the season, Tyler Johnson ended up with a career-high 36 receptions for 360 yards. Breshad Perriman had 11 catches for 167 yards, together with a game-winning, 58-yard landing in opposition to the Payments in time beyond regulation. Seldom-used Cyril Grayson emerged late within the season to catch 10 passes for 212 yards, together with a 33-yard landing to beat the Jets within the remaining seconds.
Damage Leads To Miller’s Manufacturing Drop Off
Miller missed seven weeks earlier than returning in opposition to Indianapolis in Week 12. Tom Brady tried to attach with Miller on a deep cross in that sport, however his route wasn’t exact and led to an interception.
That may be considered one of simply 9 targets Miller would get in your complete 2021 season. He would finish the season with solely 5 catches for 38 yards (7.6 avg.). This got here on the heels of a breakout 2020 marketing campaign the place Miller caught 33 passes for 501 yards (15.2 avg.) and three touchdowns within the common season.
When Miller got here again from his turf toe damage, he had hassle separating from defenders. At 5-foot-9, 174 kilos, Miller depends on velocity to create separation from defensive backs, and it wasn’t taking place. That lack of separation, and the truth that he was taking part in behind Mike Evans as a break up finish, restricted Miller’s alternatives down the stretch, in accordance with former head coach Bruce Arians.
“It’s simply alternatives,” Arians stated final fall. “Mike doesn’t come off fairly often, so if Mike doesn’t come off, Scotty doesn’t go in.”
Miller did make an affect on some end-arounds late within the season. He had two for 43 yards speeding in Week 18 in opposition to Carolina, together with a 33-yard landing in Tampa Bay’s 41-17 win.
Bucs Haven’t Forgotten What Miller Can Do
“I feel Scotty received a foul damage on the mistaken a part of the yr,” Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich stated Tuesday. “That damage is harder than you guys assume. It simply was a very long time with him not being there and different guys stepping up.
“Scotty’s simply received to be Scotty. He’s made performs since he’s been right here. The Tremendous Bowl yr, I simply envision the performs that he made. Not simply the Inexperienced Bay [touchdown], however I envision the Minnesota performs. The performs the place he jumpstarted us so much – you watch him on tape and also you attempt to give him extra alternatives, actually. Extra alternatives to be in sure conditions to do what he’s finished since he’s actually been right here.”
The Bucs haven’t forgotten Miller’s massive performs late within the 2020 season, particularly when Brown was damage. Now that he’s wholesome and in a contract yr, Miller might want to showcase his playmaking capability and re-establish his rapport with Brady to make the workforce in 2022. The highest of the Bucs’ roster is ready with Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage, however spots 4-6 on the depth chart are broad open.
“Clearly, the Tremendous Bowl run that yr, he contributed so much to us and to the offense and made a variety of massive performs for us,” Garver stated. “He positively has the power and I feel it’s only a matter of what he does on the sphere shifting ahead.”
Miller Would possibly Want To Be Particular On Particular Groups
Miller may need to carve out a outstanding function on particular groups to be able to beat out his competitors. Can he wrestle the punt or kick return job away from Jaelon Darden? Can he be a gunner on punts?
Serving as an emergency gunner on just a few performs final yr, Miller recovered two fumbles. The primary got here at Indianapolis and he had one other in opposition to Philadelphia within the playoffs.
“These had been massive, massive performs. I’ve to present Scotty credit score,” Arians stated. “That fumble restoration, he was down there and beat a double-press and used his velocity.”
Now that he’s again to full velocity, Miller wants to make use of that velocity to seize a roster spot.
“He’s going to have a possibility similar to everybody else,” Garver stated.