Antonio Brown is arguably the most matchup proof wide receiver in the league. But it doesn’t hurt to give him a little help.
That’s what Todd Haley told the media yesterday.
“We have to work awfully hard on a weekly basis with a guy like AB who gets so much attention. To make sure we’re not just leaving him in one spot. That we’re moving him around, forcing the defensive guys to adjust and adjust to some of their calls. Because if you don’t, I think it’s an easy lockdown situation.”
The tape backs up what Haley says. The Steelers’ receivers don’t have one designated role. Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, and Brown have experience playing all over the field, including seeing time in the slot. He’ll also utilize motion to uncover man/zone coverages and get better matchups.
Even with the task of a tough Seattle Seahawks secondary, there is comfort in knowing Brown can handle ant matchup.
“Obviously, AB has proven he can win vs double-teams and Ben can find him,” Haley said. “But I think the key is, and again I gave credit to AB, because early on, my time here, he didn’t always handle it. It was a little too much at times. But he studies his butt off and we’re able to put him in a lot of different spots. That gives him a chance to succeed.”
Seattle has one of the best passing defenses in the league, allowed a second-best 207 yards per game and ten passing touchdowns, third best in the league. Richard Sherman is obviously a shutdown corner and the Seahawks have one of the best safety duos in Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. The other corner spot is weaker, however. Cary Williams played nearly every snap entering last Sunday but was benched in the second half of Seattle’s win over the San Francisco 49ers. Deshawn Shead replaced him on the outside and Marcus Burley in the slot. With Sherman not always shadowing the opposing top receiver, getting Brown on either player is a tasty matchup for Ben Roethlisberger.
Brown has only faced Seattle once, catching four passes for 67 yards in 2011 in a 24-0 Steelers’ victory.
Despite an extended drought with Mike Vick at the helm, Brown is still on pace to come close to his record 2014 numbers. He is prorated to record 126 catches, three less than last year, and 1825 yards, over 125 yards from where he was at last year.