More Prominent Role For Jerricho Cotchery Paying Dividends

By Matthew Marczi

With wide reciever Mike Wallace now out of town, veteran receiver Jerricho Cotchery is finally been given the chance to really earn his keep for the Pittsburgh Steelers as the everyday slot receiver, and early returns on investment are paying dividends.

Prior to this year, Cotchery has been buried on a depth chart that included Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders—in addition to Hines Ward in 2011. He had not gotten nearly the amount of looks the past two seasons that he is getting this year.

Thus, his two-year averages with the team included 16.5 receptions, 221 yards, 13.4 yards per reception, and one touchdown per year in his scarce appearances, which were often as a fourth or fifth option on a given play.

Through four games in 2013, however, Cotchery has already secured 15 receptions for 248 yards to go along with a 16.5 yards per catch average, and has already matched his touchdown total of two—which is currently tied for the team lead in touchdown scores with Brown and Le’Veon Bell. That is a season total pace of 60 receptions, nearly 1000 yards, and eight touchdowns.

His 2013 figures include a big 36-yard reception (matching his longest with the Steelers) on the first play of the team’s last drive, which ended with a sack and fumble on third and goal, down seven points at the time.

What’s more, while he has caught 15 of the 25 passes targeted to him, that total figure includes just one drop on the year thus far. Perhaps equally impressive, of his 248 receiving yards, 93 have come after the catch—yet he has not forced a single missed tackle.

That goes well with his scouting report, which suggests that while he may not be athletic, he is smart, and he knows how to get the necessary yardage for first downs time and time again, especially on third down. And although he is certainly not much with the ball in his hands—especially when you run him on a reverse—he is a great asset to those who are, because he remains an excellent blocker for the position.

Cotchery, in fact, ranks fifth among wide receivers, in Pro Football Focus’ grading, as a blocker. It is also worth noting that Sanders is just behind him in seventh, showing that he has learned much from Cotchery and Ward.

Of course, those are in large part the numbers of a losing team whipping the ball around the field at the ends of games in a desperate attempt to make a comeback. In fact, the Steelers’ most recent loss to the Minnesota Vikings was Cotchery’s first 100-yard game in his two-plus seasons with the team. That is certainly to be considered when looking at his numbers.

Is a slot receiver performing well in a quadruple-dose of losing performances much comfort to an ailing fan base? Of course not—but wait…can he play left tackle?

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • dgh57

    When it comes to who gets resigned Cotch or Sanders I’ll take the former even though he is older. At least Cotch doesn’t suffer from temper tantrums and he’s focused on the ball until the whistle is blown.

  • cencalsteeler

    Cotchery is a gem of a player. He quietly does his job. I actually wish his number was called more. Wheaton has said Cotch has been a mentor to him and when he has questions he goes to Cotchery for advice. A solid contributor to our team!

  • steeltown

    No doubt, he just turned 31yrs old I would be happy if they gave him a another 2yr extension, he doesn’t break the bank and he sure does produce

  • steeltown

    Indeed, he is a mentor among a significantly young group of players.. think of it this way if he wasn’t on the field the elders would be Brown and Sanders and we’ve all seen just how mature those guys are.. or should I say those ‘kids’ are

  • GoSteelerz

    Cotch at LT??? Well he can’t be much worse, and he can turn around and catch the ball if the defender gets by him… Yeah sounds good to me!!!! LOL ;)

  • ATL96STEELER

    I like what Cotch is doing right now, but he’s really a luxury on an 0-4 team. If things don’t get turned around in really short order…I would rather see Wheaton getting those targets to develop him for next yr….I still view Sanders as a #3 WR, a spot I think Wheaton should have next yr and get a legit #2 from the draft.

  • steeltown

    I think Wheaton will slowly see more targets either at Sanders expense or Cotcherys… after the way Sanders has been playing recently, basically undisciplined football I cant imagine Tomlin, Haley and Mann are too pleased with him. At this point, in my eyes he’s a #3 WR that has above avg blocking skills and an undisciplined demeanor

  • ATL96STEELER

    Makes sense…idk about you, but Tomlin’s rant after the game seemed directed at least in part @ Clark…you think?

  • Bilgewater D

    No need to worry about Sanders. Its going to be Brown, Wheaton, Mike Evans, Moye, and Cotchery next year.

  • steeltown

    Man that would be an awesome WR corp… Evans is climbing speculatory draft boards.. im not sure we’ll draft WR that high

  • steeltown

    I haven’t watched it.. cant bring myself to listen to Tomlin after this last loss.. not yet

  • gene mann

    Couth is a pure vet who goes about his business and plays the game right ,no way will the steelers pay Sanders wht he going to be looking for

  • Douglas Andrews

    Evans is a big body reciever but he lacks speed and his route running needs work but if we can add him to the mix as possibly a legit #2 I’d be okay with that. What we have now with Sanders is a #3 at best WR trying to make him a #2 and that he is just not at all.