Personal Records Take A Back Seat Down The Stretch Even For AB

Not that it is necessarily particularly crucial to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ success or failure—though there tends to be a correlation—I can’t help but find myself wondering what the rest of the season is going to look like for wide receiver Antonio Brown with respect to his production, relative to a number of unstable variables.

As it almost perennially the case, the Steelers eighth-year pass catcher finds himself atop many of the league’s receiving statistics once again. And it’s in large part thanks to the big game that he just had on Friday, catching 10 passes for 144 yards and three touchdowns, thereby doubling his scores for the season.

His 70 receptions on the year to this point is the most in the league, by one, just edging out Larry Fitzgerald. But his 1026 receiving yards is far out of everybody else’s reach at the moment, with nobody else even being within 100 yards. Only one other player even currently has 900 receiving yards.

After struggling to get into the end zone often enough, his six total receiving touchdowns on the year does rank tied for their with a large number of other players. Only DeAndre Hopkins’ nine touchdowns and Will Fuller’s seven are more. That is a lot of touchdown passes in Houston.

It goes on, of course. He and Adam Thielen are tied for the most explosive plays on the year with 16, while Brown’s five catches of 40 yards or more are second only to Brandin Cooks of the Patriots, who I believe just had two such receptions yesterday for New England. Only Hopkins has more receptions for first downs.

And Brown’s 14.7 yards per reception—on 70 receptions—just goes to show how efficient he has been per reception this year. It is his highest figure in that statistic since he entered the starting lineup in his third season, and the second-highest of his entire career, the highest being in 2011 when he broke out in his second season.

But is this the path forward? By Brown’s standards, this year has been somewhat feast or famine, with five 100-yard games and five games of 70 yards or fewer, including two under 50 yards. He either catches a bunch of passes for a bunch of yards or has five or fewer, often with under 70 yards.

The Steelers at the moment still have to resolve just what their identity is on offense going forward. Is this Ben Roethlisberger’s offense to command? Will they run through Le’Veon Bell? How big a role is JuJu Smith-Schuster to play going forward after having nearly 300 yards over a two-game span? And what about Martavis Bryant?

Overall, there are a lot of things to consider. But just the fact that he can have a season like last year, with 106 receptions for 1284 yards, and have it be regarded as a down year, is just a testament to how good he has been during this stretch.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • No WR in NFL history has had 5 consecutive years of 100+ catch seasons. AB could be the first.

  • Sam Clonch

    I’m pulling for him, but agree with the article that winning comes first. If that means riding Leveon, so be it. AB is more than earning his contract, regardless of records!

  • pittfan

    While I love seeing AB go off like a Roman candle, I’d also like to see a second and 3rd WR having some big numbers too. Having an O where everything goes thru 1 or 2 players lends itself to being shut down in big games by high level DCs. I get Ben looking to AB at crunch time, the guy gets open MOST OF THE TIME and catches nearly everything thrown his way., But on a 3rd and 10, with time running out and down by 2, you want 5 guys who are just as likely to be the 1st look instead of just 1.

  • CountryClub

    If they want to win the SB, the O needs to flow through Ben. But, they can do that and still get Bell 25 – 30 touches a game.

  • CountryClub

    JuJu’s numbers have been really good for a #2 over the past few weeks. And, Bryant has done solidly as the #3 option. I think they’re just rounding into shape. I expect the O to go on a nice run.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    A few dump off passes and an intermediate throw over the middle to Jesse James occasionally would help. And I would spend the next game getting Bryant more involved, as the sideline and middle of the field are always open to him because the defenders must respect his speed. Again, intermediate stuff and slants.

    If these things happen, it would finally feel like the Steelers O is unstoppable. I would really push this because I feel it’s the best way for them to win a Lombardi. Go Steelers!

  • Nunya

    No huddle seems pretty effective. I would love to see that become our primary offense. Doesn’t mean you have to rush, but with our personnel, we can run or pass effectively out of it and we can keep the D from making any substitutions.

  • pittfan

    Good points. And I agree the O is coming together

  • Steve Johnson

    Flow through Ben? I’m assuming you mean he has to have more Command of the Offense? If so, I disagree; now, I agree the No-Huddle Offense, yes I think they should run it more. History has proven, when they allow #7 to just drop back and throw the ball, typically that is a recipe for disaster.

  • CountryClub

    They’re not winning the whole thing running the ball 30+ times a game. They don’t need Ben throwing the ball 45 times a game, either. In my opinion, it needs to be a passing offense complimented by the running game, not the other way around.

  • EdJHJr

    AB, give up stats. Don’t believe it and won t till I see it

  • Benjamin Schell

    Not really on board with Steelers needing to resolve their identity. A team that can come out and attack via running or passing is more difficult to prepare for. If teams want to consistently double Brown then we shouldn’t force it to him. We need to be able to attack other teams’ weaknesses and adjust our offense on the fly if that’s Brown some weeks and other guys other weeks that just makes the team as a whole better.
    Really what we need is a healthy O line going into the playoffs and continued improvement from Bryant and JuJu to where teams cannot afford to focus on Brown. Bell needs to regain some consistency as well.
    AB is both the constant threat and also the trump card who can flip a close game into a win with a big play like in the Cleveland or Indy games this year or the Ravens game last year.
    I do think more deep balls need to go to AB since Bryant just doesn’t seem to be competitive in the 1:1 battles down the field despite his height advantage. We can only waste so many drives in a season trying to get that part of our game back on track.