The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Antonio Brown
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 6 Years
After a quick glance at his 2015 statistics, I have drawn the conclusion that Antonio Brown is still a good football player.
But since I should say a little bit more, I will add that the six-year veteran just completed one of the most remarkable seasons that a wide receiver has ever had in the history of the National Football League, and part of the legacy of this season will include the issues that the team had at quarterback this season.
In spite of the fact that Ben Roethlisberger only played 74 percent of the Steelers’ offensive snaps this season—Mike Vick and Landry Jones combined to play 282 snaps over the span of four games and change—Brown still put up some of the best numbers that the game has ever known.
The All-Pro finished the season with 136 receptions, which surpassed his own franchise record for receptions in a season that he set the previous year with 129. 129 receptions was the second-most ever in a season; now 136 is.
Brown also finished the year with 1834 receiving yards, breaking his own franchise record for the second consecutive season. That total is the fourth-most for receiving yards in a season in NFL history, and would have been the third-most before this season, if not for Julio Jones putting up comparably absurd numbers.
His streak of 35 games played with at least five receptions for 50 receiving yards came to an end in Vick’s first start in Week Four, and he and the offense labored through four games without Roethlisberger, with Brown’s statistics taking a major hit.
In the four games that Roethlisberger missed, Brown averaged only 59 yards per game on 17 receptions. But he caught 119 passes for 1599 yards in the 12 games in which Roethlisberger played, numbers that would prorate to 159 receptions for 2132 yards over a full season. Both of those numbers would shatter the current record, as nobody has recorded 150 receptions or 2000 receiving yards in a season.
It also should not go without noting that he did finished with 10 touchdown receptions, only the second player in team history to have at least 10 in consecutive seasons, and he has the most touchdown receptions in a two-year span in franchise history. He did fumble three times, losing two, however, including one on special teams.
The fact that I completely glanced over his work as a punt returner is simply a comment on how phenomenal he is on offense. This year, he returned 22 punts for 212 yards, averaging 9.6 yards per return, including a 71-yard touchdown. It was his fourth punt return for a touchdown in his career.