Antonio Brown Showing Signs Of Top Receiver Talent

By Matthew Marczi

A week after allegedly approaching his offensive coordinator with some grievances over how he was being utilized within the offense during the first two game, wide receiver Antonio Brown had the best statistical game of his career, totaling nearly 200 yards on nine receptions and two touchdowns.

All three were career highs for the fourth-year receiver, including his first career multiple-score game. He finished last season strong as well, scoring in each of the team’s last four games. It is also worth pointing out that the degree of difficulty of both touchdown receptions was quite high and took a great deal of skill.

Through the first three games, Brown now has 20 total receptions for 324 yards and a yards per catch average of 16.2 to go along with the two scores.

Of course, it is worth keeping in perspective the fact that much of these statistics were compiled in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ loss this past week to the Chicago Bears, which very much had the beginnings of a blowout, and certainly finished as such, as turnovers derailed any comeback attempt.

Still, we are beginning to see the signs from Brown that we have been waiting for, the signs that point to his ability to fulfill his newfound role as the top receiver now that Mike Wallace is in Miami.

During his four-year tenure, the points production through the air was primarily driven through him. Even last season, Wallace finished the year with eight touchdowns. But he rarely caught any with the degree of difficulty displayed on Brown’s two touchdown catches, the second of which made many of the media highlight reels the day after.

Brown’s willingness to battle for the tough balls is something that the Steelers often lacked from their top dog during Wallace’s tenure. And this season especially appears to be one in which the Steelers are going to need to be able to come up with some of those contested balls in order to make something of the year.

Brown, of course, still has several years left on his contract with the Steelers, but with Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery hitting free agency after this season, it is very important for the team to be able to find out this year if Brown can truly be their number one receiver.

Make no mistake: Brown may have done more than scratch the surface of his talent, but he is still a young player with room to grow, both as a person and as an athlete.

The decision could certainly impact their draft strategy for next season, especially if they don’t feel comfortable anointing Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye, or Justin Brown a starter. Wide receiver was considered a potential first round target this past draft, and that is likely to be the case next year as well.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • steeltown

    He had a fantastic game.

    We don’t really know what Wheaton is capable of or even J.Brown or Moye for that matter, Wheaton could be a star in waiting, but regardless I see them drafting WR in the earlier Rds (maybe in the 3rd again) because I would assume Sanders is gone, same with Burress and most likely Cotchery as well.

  • Weiss Chad

    The kid from usc i think marquise lee or taylor lewan lt from MI or anthony barr ucla would all be nice players to add

  • chris ward

    AB being a #1 receiver was one of the biggest question marks heading into this season. After his outstanding performance on Sunday night, it seems to be he is up for that challenge. Hopefully he can be consistent and bring his A game every week.

  • cencalsteeler

    Kudos to Brown. I love the fact that he wears his emotions on his sleeve. I hope it’s contagious, something I feel the Steelers need injected into their morale. Also, love Ben addressing the need for his lineman to incorporate a little nastiness in their play, too. It’s time to add a little mean streak to everyones play. Antonio showed that last week and his play improved, and his stats padded the fact that attitude and confidence improves performance.

  • srdan

    AB is good. Today’s NFL rules favor players like him. It’s no longer necessary to have a physically imposing WR, although it’s nice.

    Even if he is a number 1, we still lack a redzone threat. When 11 defensive players are bunched up in the redzone, it get’s a lot harder to throw over them to smaller receivers. I don’t quite get why Moye wasn’t dressed last week.

    Even if Marcus is good, we still need a WR. This is a year that is going to be extremely deep with WR talent. Even with our upcoming 32nd pick we should be ok, hehe.

  • Matt Searls

    I think that they will draft one early again as well. But we will need a defensive end if we don’t sign ziggy.

  • Matt Searls

    There are a lot of big body receivers coming out in this draft. And a lot that are projected 1-3 rounders

  • bgsteelfan

    I see round 3 or later, unless Wheaton shows us nothing.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    I had actually just put up something on another site about how Brown’s numbers so far this year dwarf the $12 million dollar man’s. Of course, this past game against a Bears team that gives up an inordinately high number of 20+ yard passes plays a big role in that, but still, these are encouraging signs.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    Moye, Paulson and Miller should be used as the RZ threats, and eventually Brown down the road. As for why he didn’t dress, I can no longer bring myself to try to figure out Tomlin’s decisions on who dresses or doesn’t.

  • steeltown

    They’ll re-sign Ziggy.. and we’ll also have Arnfelt and N.Williams vying for roster spots next year as well, I think CB is more of need on Defense

  • Kalan Bell

    So that Wallace catch against KC last year in the corner of the end zone wasn’t difficult? I generally agree with Wallace’s lack of going up and competing with the ball, although i have a good idea as to why that was always hard for him. What about the GB win 4 years ago? Who cares how “difficult” the tds are, lets be glad Brown is actually scoring them.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Here’s what I would do if I were a GM, again its just me- if we go to London and lose again, I’ll trade away E. Sanders and give Derrick Moye more PT, promote Justin Brown from PS.

    You don’t want to go into draft thinking okay, we need a tall receiver if we already have a capable receivers like that on roster. its better off shrinking and eliminating needs on draft list if our players have plenty to show, one thing I’ll keep eye on is TE. It is time we start utlitize TEs, like the Bengals. Get that kid from Washington!

  • RW

    I’m not so certain about that. If Brown does pick up and is capable of filling in as the long therm number one, maybe you’re right. I just have a hunch that we’ll be seeking a monster receiver in either this coming draft or the following one. A true LT should be priority #1. As Steeltown previously suggested, Adams is young, but when you watch him it’s clear that he may never be able to handle the faster DEs/LBs in this league and is better suited, in my opinion, to play on the right.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    You may be right. I come at my opinion from two factors, primarily: 1) I don’t consider WR to be a need that can’t be addressed later in the draft and 2) The rumor every year is that they are going to take a big bodied #1 in the first or second and it never happens.

    Also, I think Brown IS a long term #1. I think Wheaton has #2 potential at minimum, and I think Brown and Moye both have long term potential. If they develop that way, we wouldn’t need a high round pick.

  • Matt Searls

    Cb wr and safety are our biggest needs I think if we can keep ziggy

  • Jazz

    We don’t know what Wheaton is capable of because that idiot of an OC doesn’t know how to utilize the talent he has. I’ve been screaming this for weeks now; why not put Wheaton opposite of Brown, Sanders in the slot. With Wheaton’s speed on the outside, Sanders in the slot, that would create headaches for the opposing team. Say what you want, Sanders isn’t a #1 receiver, barely a #2. He is more suited in a role like the slot receiver that use to be in New England, now with the Broncos.

  • Mike Carroll

    RE: “very important to find out if he is truly a number one”.

    The team already decided to make him the number one and have paid him as such last year. I loved his game last week and hope he brings more like it in the coming weeks.

  • Mike Carroll

    Moye didn’t dress because special teams were made a priority playing the Bears and Hester. I’d like to see Moye get more opportunities, but it’s hard to argue with the special teams success last week.

  • Mike Carroll

    What would you take in exchange for Sanders?

  • Mike Carroll

    Whoever said Sanders is a #1? I think most people on here believe he is good #3 and mediocre #2. At least that is my opinion. There’s no doubt Wheaton will be seeing more snaps as the year goes on. Haley deserves through the end of this season before judgement is passed on him considering the transition this team is going through.

  • Jay Jaber

    Mike Evans!!!!!!!! We need a guy to compliment brown and Wheaton in the slot

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    3rd round sound about right. To a team like Patriots, low 3rd round due to his one-year contract, that hurts for a long-term suitors and devalued Manny a little bit.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I pretty clearly said that it was a rare occurrence, not that it never happened.

  • Johnny Loose

    “but he is still a young player with room to grow, both as a person and as an athlete.” I agree with this assessment. I think we know what kind of athlete he is and I don’t see him failing us there. I’m not saying he’s another Santonio Holmes or anything but I would really like to see him grow as a person as well.

  • Johnny Loose

    I’d really like to see what Moye’s got, let alone Wheaton. As much as I’ve been hoping they’d draft a dominant, big-bodied receiver, I’m kind of leaning towards drafting a TE in the first round, or second if the quality is there. It would be a nice complement to Heath and possible future replacement. Also would help the running game.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The one thing we have been able to do is find good WR’s later on in the draft. A 1st round LT maybe in the cards. We shall see as the season goes on.

  • Richard Edlin

    If we can afford to. We’re a long way over the salary cap with those that are already signed … there will need to be a lot of restructuring even to afford to cover the remainder with minimal contracts. I can’t see us having that much extra to resign players; if we can afford to resign one or two players, is Hood amongst them?

  • Richard Edlin

    Agreed … at least he appears to have the upside to be a #2 in the next year or two. However, if he starts at #4 there’s a very long way to get there and a lot of losses between now and then.

  • Richard Edlin

    Very good point. Moye is a good redzone target and if he’s on the field with Miller, one of them + Brown will draw single coverage.