Film Room: Steelers Free Up Antonio Brown For Monster Day

It’s fair to say Todd Haley didn’t call a great game yesterday. It’s very fair to say the Pittsburgh Steelers severely underperformed. The one thing that went right? Antonio Brown, who manages to sidestep every negative factor that doesn’t have the word “Vick” on the back of its jersey.

But that performance was partially created by scheme. I’ve been critical of Haley for not being creative enough with Brown in the past. But today, where nothing else went right on offense, he was used properly. The Steelers consistently put Brown in stacked looks to give him free releases off the line, not allowing an aggressive Gregg Williams’ coached defense to roll up and press/bracket the Steelers’ top receiver.

On six of Brown’s 11 targets (he caught them all), he was lined up in a stacked formation with another receiver. Let’s look at all those examples.

Each time, this allowed Brown to have a free release off the line. He wasn’t pressed, jammed, and the whole route tree opened up with no cornerback using leverage to take anything away. Remember, when the Miami Dolphins took him out of the game last year, Brown was almost always split out wide, allowing the corner to play inside shade and force an outside released to the sideline.

In the stack, the split is reduced and freed up. Brown in space is a dangerous thing.

Here’s one example. Stacked to get a free release. Brown runs a slant and the corner, forced to play off, is unable to drive on the route. Easy pitch and catch for him.

That’s a good sign for Brown going forward. If everything else can work just a fraction as well, the Steelers’ offense will be back on track this Sunday vs Minnesota.

About the Author

Alex Kozora
Full-time blogger from mom's basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.
  • Jacob

    Good scheme. Stack Antonio = Stack wins.

    How many times has the Antonio/Ben connection won the game for the Steelers? Too many to count.

    Now if Ben can get on the same page with Eli, Juju and Martavis, along with improved run blocking.. their offense will be unstoppable.

  • Talyn Scarbrough

    The offense did not look like up to the superbowl caliber that its supposed to be. Granted, this is the first game and Tomlin teams are notoriously known for turning the curve right before the 2nd half of the season. AB, Jesse James, Chickillo, and T.J. Watt were the ones we leaned on yesterday. I’m giving credit to Dirty red as well. He got that punt block at the start of the game lol.

  • Chad Sanborn

    After watching the Cowgirls game last night I’m convinced Haley is incompetent as an offensive coordinator. The way they run screens and how they create matchups for their receivers and tight ends actually made me jealous. Haleys best idea is moving AB off the line for a free release. We won and thats good but we could be so much better.

  • RickM

    They should have listened to you way earlier. Who knows. Maybe you have on O-Coordinator job in your future.

  • Michael

    Missed half the game, were JuJu’s 2-3 holding calls justified or ticky tack?

  • Michael

    Watt’s U.I. call was ticky tack. It was a gesture contact of continuation, non violent and half second late. B.S.

  • Sam Clonch

    6.25% through the season, and AB’s 11% to that 5th straight 100 catch season. Here we go!!!

  • Sam Clonch

    Justified, unfortunately. Both on screens or right at the LOS I believe. He’ll get better.

  • VaDave

    IMO, if Refs dropped flags everytime holding actually occurs, games would take days to complete. It has become arbitrary, and no doubt a means to keep games competitive. If Thomas would have been flagged each time he held Watt, the outcome of the game would not -have been nearly as close.

  • VaDave

    He is a treasure!

  • Pghomer

    “How many times has the Antonio/Ben connection won the game for the Steelers?”
    Just not the last one of the season………….yet:)

  • gdeuce

    they were real holds, he has to learn to let go of the guy’s pads/jersey when they are moving away from him

  • VaDave

    True, opening jitters for sure, and this team will be much better. Just an aside here but back in the 70’s it took the Steelers sometimes 4-6 weeks of the regular season to get their trap offense working efficiently. I think what the All 22 will show is mostly three areas, the lack of timing being the most critical, followed closely by untimely penalties, the last being a worthy opponent that is a lot better than the last ime any of us can remember. Let me add to your list of standouts, the DL played a whale of a game against a line comprised of some really good pedigreed offensive linemen.

  • The thing is, there was some uncertainly as to what to expect from the Brown’s new look defense.

    Greg Williams is a great coach and his defense competed for at least 2 super bowls winning 1 of them. The only thing you absolutely can expect him do to is bring tons of pressure from all over.

    So Haley decided to get the ball on the parameter early to slow down the rush. They didn’t gain many yards when doing so but it did slow down the rush considerably.

  • gdeuce

    did you like the second goal line TD to Jesse James?

  • srdan

    He reeks of someone who is a career pessimist. Therefore it’s hard to give credit where it’s due.

  • srdan

    You are 100% right!


    Agreed. The most heinous non-holds are in D linemen.

  • FATCAT716

    I like wins like yesterday, because it’s a win but it also let’s us know we got a lot of work to get done. But 90% of the NFL looked bad yesterday suffering from lack of 2 a days & starter not playing much of the preseason. Football is a game of rhythm & cohesion the Steelers lacked both yesterday

  • pittfan


  • Chad Sanborn

    yes that was great. So 2 good ideas out of 60 plays called

  • Michael Joseph Jackson

    Psh…..the Raiders put on a clinic…

  • Nunya

    Everyone is forgetting an important point here. We beat (presumably) a very bad team on the road. Do people remember our record against bad teams? This is a big victory!😂😂

  • Craig M

    The new Browns are not IMO a very bad team, they have the foundation of becoming a very good team. And I also think we have the basis of becoming a very great team- if we can get our OC onboard.

  • nutty32

    Seemed like he was trying too hard, making sure he didn’t miss any blocking assignments & get called out in film room. Now he’s running laps until he learns the refs are all over you for holds in space, play side.

  • nutty32

    At least Haley was better than the Giants guy? That Giants guy was supposed to be an offensive genius to boot. He’s prolonging Eli’s career but 100% check downs isn’t going to cut it.

  • Dshoff

    The first Juju hold was unbelievable. He held the guy for over 3 seconds and the ref would have had to be blind not to see it. That was the most eggregious hold I’ve ever seen, seriously! They’ve got to coach him better than that. LET GO at some point!

  • Dshoff

    I don’t think Watt would have gotten flagged if he didn’t lower his helmet into the guy.

  • Mr jack

    Pretty much what I expected,and we will improve each week and by the 7th game we will be on fire.

  • Dshoff

    You are correct, we have a habit of losing to bad teams. Let’s hope that we put that to rest this year.

  • Steeler808

    Well…he did say 90% so you can put the Raiders into that group if it makes you feel better.

  • Dshoff

    Brown wasn’t just dominant, he made 2 or 3 very tough catches. The one on the slant where the guy was holding his arm was incredible. One handed catch. And how he tracked down the long one and found the best place to jump and catch it was awesome. AB is getting seriously good.