The Pittsburgh Steelers have been fortunate to have the services of a tight end such as Heath Miller for the past decade. They still are. But the reality is that he isn’t exactly the player he once was, particularly as a blocker.
That’s not to say that he can’t get the job anymore, by any means. There’s a reason he was on the field for every snap on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. He does make a number of plays as a blocker. But he also misses more than he used to.
It was his failure to block safety Tashaun Gipson on third and one on the Steelers’ opening drive earlier this week, for example, that forced Pittsburgh to go three-and-out.
The play call was a pitch left to Le’Veon Bell. With the safety up at the line, Miller was lined up on the left side ready to shoot out on Gipson, but the tight end was beaten at the point of attack, with the safety using his arms as separation. He proceeded to make the open-field tackle for a loss.
Later in the first quarter, Miller served as a lead blocker on a run up the middle, locking on Karlos Dansby, but the linebacker was able to get free and make the tackle
One play he did help the cause on was Dri Archer’s 15-yard carry. Blocking on the right side across from Jabaal Sheard, Miller started on him as though the play were going to the left side while gradually setting down to keep him from going right when Archer cut back. That helped get the back free to the sideline for a nice again.
On the next play, Miller was able to pick up Dansby at the second level and lock him down off the right edge, allowing Bell to get around the corner for a six-yard gain. Unfortunately, he followed that up by allowing Paul Kruger to make the tackle on Bell off the left side on the next play after just a short gain.
After the Browns opened the second half with the ball at their own 20-yard line, they were able to drive to the Steelers’ 36 before choosing to punt on fourth down. The result was that Pittsburgh started the half pinned on their own six.
Miller didn’t help matters when he slipped off his block on the first play. On a run right, the tight end was base blocking the outside linebacker when Bell crossed behind them. The defender pounced, reaching out from Miller’s grasp to tackle the running back after a short gain.