It hasn’t happened since 2011. The Pittsburgh Steelers have only achieved it four times in their history, dating back to the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978, although all four of those occurrences have come since 2000.
Two of the offenses that managed to reach two receivers each reaching 1000 yards in a season were helmed by Ben Roethlisberger, in 2011 and 2009. Tommy Maddox did it once, in 2003 during the ‘Tommy Gun’ year. Kordell Stewart just barely managed it in 2001 as well, en route to a Pro Bowl season.
But I have a hard time believing the Steelers’ offense of 2015 shouldn’t be able to duplicate this feat, not with the Steelers airing it out more than ever and with the pair of starting receivers that they should have at their disposal.
Of course, we know that Antonio Brown is bound to get his 1000 yards. He was one of the two receivers who did so in 2011, before he was even in the starting lineup, and he has put up over 3000 yards combined over the past two year.
Brown posted 1698 yards last season, which far surpasses the threshold, of course. The next player closest to 1000 yards last season, however, was actually running back Le’Veon Bell with 853 receiving yards. With his three-game suspension to begin the season, however, it seems unlikely that he will have a very good shot of reaching 1000 yards receiving this year.
While it’s intriguing to even have the luxury of discussing potential candidates, the most likely player to achieve 1000 receiving yards would have to be Martavis Bryant as he figures to enter the starting lineup in his second season.
In just 10 games, with a limited snap count, Bryant caught 26 passes for 549 yards and eight touchdowns. Obviously that doesn’t project to a 1000-yard season on a 16-game schedule, but he only played a little over 300 snaps. He figures to more than double that, if not triple it, in 2015.
According to Pro Football Focus, Bryant unsurprisingly led the Steelers with 2.75 yards per route run last season. The fact that Brown just barely trailed him at 2.66 yards per route run with his heavy workload is actually pretty remarkable.
The site has Bryant running only 200 routes last season. Let’s say he runs 500 routes this year. At 2.75 yards per route run, that would give him 1375 yards on the season.
Of course, probability suggests that as his workload increases, his efficiency will decrease. He led the league last season with 21.1 yards per reception, which is a feat he is unlikely to duplicate as a starting wide receiver.
With his rare combination of size and speed, however, he is a coveted target for Roethlisberger, who will no doubt look his way a good percentage of the time that he is on the field. The only factors, barring health, that I can foresee preventing Bryant from achieving a 1000-yard season is if the Steelers really spread the ball around and run the ball significantly more than last season.