Anthony Miller's proving why the Bears are smart to stay patient with him

Cam Ellis
NBC Sports Chicago

It'd be hard to find a better example of the Anthony Miller Experience than Thursday's win in Detroit. There were plenty of the head-scratching moments that Miller's become somewhat infamous for, but he was also the best player on the field for large chunks of the game, including a fourth quarter that he basically took over. Fittingly, Miller finished the game with nine catches for 140 yards, both career highs.

"You are feeling him the last two weeks," Matt Nagy said after the Bears' 24-20 win. "He's getting opportunities and he is making the most of it."

Miller's first half was forgettable, and the Bears probably wish they could do just that. His most notable play came in the second quarter, when he fumbled a ball that, luckily, was ruled an incompletion after a booth review. His issues with pre- and post-whistle penalties continued, as he also was flagged for not getting set on a failed fourth down conversion midway through the same quarter. He went into the locker room with four catches and 30 yards. 

"First of all, I just prayed," he said. "I was just telling God, ‘Use me like you made me,' you know what I mean? And he did, he came through for me." 

Someone heard him, whether it was divine intervention from above, or coaching intervention from the skybox slightly below. 

"That's what I was telling coach," he said. "Every time we ran off the field – keeping throwing the ball, man. My receivers are going to make plays, I'm going to make plays, everybody's going to make the plays for you. Just keep trusting us."

Their trust was rewarded, as Miller proceeded to have one of his finest games since being drafted 51st overall in 2018. He and Mitch Trubisky connected on two crucial third downs, extending the nine-play drive that would result in the game-winning touchdown. The first was a 35-yard completion on 3rd and four from the Bears' 13-yard line. 

"We knew we had man coverage," Trubisky said. "Kind of dialed it up for him. And we like Anthony on corners. He ran a great route, the O-line did a great job of giving me time, and I just put it in a spot where he could make the play, and he made a huge play for our offense."

Three plays later, again on third down and facing man coverage, Trubisky hit Miller down the sideline for a 32-yard gain. It was his ninth and final catch of the night - the third time in a row he's had seven catches or more in a game. Of all the catches he had, however, it was the handful of blocks on linebackers that Miller said he was most proud of. The Bears will happily take both for as long as this run of good play continues. 

"I definitely feel different," he said. "I feel like I'm getting more opportunities. I feel like I'm more involved, and when I'm more involved, I feel like I can make a lot of plays for this team. Coach has just been giving me the opportunities and I've been taking advantage." 

In a wonderfully weird way, Thursday's performance was a microcosm of Miller's sophomore season. The first half was filled with inconsistent play and mental mistakes that make you wonder if he really has a role on the team anymore. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he flipped a switch and was making catches that make you wonder if he's the best player on the offense. 

"Those are the plays I dream of," he said. "I just need to make them when my number's called."

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Anthony Miller's proving why the Bears are smart to stay patient with him originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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