Chris Miller had all the talent and potential to be the greatest quarterback in Atlanta Falcons team history.
Chris Miller was selected by the Atlanta Falcons from the University of Oregon as the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 1987 NFL draft. He had a very promising career outlook for the Falcons until the injury bug hit and derailed him.
As a rookie in 1987, Miller held out because of a contract dispute and didn’t report to the team until October 30th. He did start the final two games of the season, which helped prepare him for training camp the following season.
Miller planted himself as the starting QB in 1988 moving forward. Coming out of Oregon, he had a big, strong and, accurate arm, a great passing touch, and was very poised.
This definitely translated from college to the pros for Miller. He was also a leader on the field and in the huddle and was elusive with good scalability. He was always well-liked by his teammates and coaches and earned their respect as the team leader. Unfortunately, he only played seven seasons in Atlanta as the injuries piled up for him.
1991 was Miller’s best season with the Falcons as he earned Pro-Bowl honors and led the team to the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Not only did they win their first-ever road playoff game (at New Orleans), it was the team’s first winning season in nine years.
Chris Miller was elite for the Atlanta Falcons
Miller threw for 3,103 yards with 26 touchdown passes in 1991. In 1992, he was well on his way to another Pro-Bowl berth at the season halfway point when a season-ending injury signaled the beginning of the end.
He suffered a non-contact torn ACL on a fluke play when his spikes got caught in the turf at the Georgia Dome. He had 15 touchdown passes after eight games when he went down and was well on his way to a career-high in yards passing and touchdown passes for the season.
Miller was able to rehab and come back for the 1993 season as the starting quarterback. The team did sign Bobby Hebert as insurance, which resulted in competition for Miller from day one of training camp.
Benched during the second game of the 1993 season in a home loss to New Orleans, Miller never regained his starting job with the Falcons. In a blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night in the fourth game, Miller came in and threw one pass while rolling out to his right, which led to him tearing the same ACL for the second straight season.
Chris Miller’s Atlanta Falcons career was over after the 1993 season. While with the Falcons, he threw for 14,066 total passing yards with 87 touchdown passes and an overall 54% completion rate.
Miller signed with the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent in 1994. Beginning in 1995, he sustained five concussions in a span of 14 months.
After sitting out the following three seasons to recover from numerous concussions, he made a comeback with the Denver Broncos in 1999. Miller was forced to retire again. This time, his career was officially over after suffering a concussion from a nasty hit on a handoff by one of his offensive lineman.
Miller was a bust for the Atlanta Falcons because of injuries
Miller finished his Atlanta Falcons career playing in 69 games and finishing third in franchise history in passing yards and tied for third in touchdown passes. One wonders what might have been for him had he not torn his ACL the first time halfway through the 1992 season.
Had he remained healthy that season and set career highs, 1993 could have resulted in even better numbers, which then might have resulted in him signing a long-term contract as a free agent heading into the 1994 season.
Chris Miller was the starting quarterback of some very poor Falcons teams in the late 1980s. He then led the most fun Falcons team to watch in both league and franchise history in the early 1990s, also known as Too Legit to Quit.
Had he remained healthy and been with the team long-term, he definitely would have surpassed Steve Bartkowski as the second all-time passing yards leader in team history. Miller deserved better as luck was not on his side during his Falcons tenure.