Zach Miller. In his first season with the Seahawks, the former Pro Bowl tight end with the Raiders did a lot more blocking (countless) than receiving (25 catches).
This season, Miller is catching up to the 66- and 60-catch efforts he had in Oakland before signing with the Seahawks in free agency last summer. He produced the Seahawks’ two longest plays in Sunday’s 16-12 victory over the Panthers in Carolina – a 30-yard reception from rookie QB Russell Wilson in the third quarter and a 23-yarder in the fourth-quarter drive to a Steven Hauschka field goal that put the Seahawks up 16-10.
Miller’s three-catch, 59-yard day gives him 12 receptions for 150 yards entering Sunday’s game against the Patriots at CenturyLink Field – and both totals rank second on the team to wide receiver Sidney Rice (17 for 199).
“Zach has been doing everything we have asked him,” coach Pete Carroll said. “And when we’ve gotten the ball to him, he’s done really well.”
And the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Miller also continues to help provide running lanes for leading rusher Marshawn Lynch.
“Zach is blocking terrifically and he’s doing a very, very terrific job on the line of scrimmage,” Carroll said.
But it’s the strides he is showing as a receiver that should help the league’s 31st-ranked passing game.
“He’s a big target,” Carroll said. “I just like to see him get the ball. It just helps us so much, and we just need more.”
Sunday, Miller wasn’t just a big target; he was a wide-open target on those two long completions – especially on the longest play.
“(The Panthers’ safeties) were playing so deep, they were just kind of letting me go down the middle,” Miller said. “Russell spotted me, threw a nice ball and hit me.”
Miller’s pair of big catches allowed the passing game – and Wilson – to surpass 200 yards for the time this season. And the Seahawks no longer are the only team in the league averaging more yards rushing than passing, as the passing average is up to 147 – 6.8 yards more than the rushing average.