Over the course of the last two seasons, Steelers’ All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown has amassed 229 catches for 3,197 yards and 21 touchdowns, all despite a constant barrage of game plans and double-teams devised to stop him. After last season’s 1,698 yards and 13 scores, where does he go from here for the upcoming season?
Despite lacking the “prototype” size that’s usually stereotyped with NFL wideouts like Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant or Julio Jones, Brown has done nothing but make plays and rack up video game numbers the past several seasons for Pittsburgh and the looming season should be no different.
According to the thinking of NFL senior analyst Gil Brandt, his numbers will only point north, despite the arrival of second-year deep threat Martavis Bryant, who looks to be the shoe-in to line up quite a bit opposite Brown in the starting lineup. Last year, the Steelers’ offense possessed several Pro Bowlers at the skill positions, including Brown, running back Le’Veon Bell and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. However, Bell is facing a multiple game suspension to start the year, putting more of the load on the arm of Roethlisberger and the sure hands of Brown.
“He can catch short, medium or long passes, over the middle or anywhere, and is very hard to stop,” Brandt said, according to NFL.com.
Brandt looks for Brown to wind up with 1,700 yards this season, putting him in some rarified air when it comes to three-year stretches for receiving totals in NFL history, including names like Jerry Rice and Cris Carter.
Brown is on a furious pace to place his name atop the hierarchy when it comes to the Steelers’ record books and should only add to it this coming fall. Last season, he broke the NFL record, recording five or more catches in consecutive games and if he continues at his current pace, is it too premature to include Brown’s name and Canton in the same sentence? With the 33-year old Roethlisberger in his prime, seeming to get better with age and locked up for the next five seasons, he and Brown will look to continue playing pitch and catch at the misfortunes of opposing defensive coordinators around the league.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, Brandt chose him as his runner-up for his NFL passing yards leader next year, instead going with Indy’s Andrew Luck. However, Brown was the clear-cut favorite for his aerial yardage leader.
“He’s got a strong-armed quarterback throwing him the ball and a proclivity for picking up yards after the catch, meaning last year’s receiving yards leader has a good shot to repeat in 2015,” Brandt said.
With mouths to feed everywhere, including the aforementioned Bryant, promising slot man Markus Wheaton, old reliable Heath Miller and the sure hands of Bell once he returns, one could argue Brown’s numbers will dip as well as his targets. Brandt’s not one of them, as he went on to say despite that, “Brown is the man right now.”