Antonio Brown’s season is off to another stellar start. He was the only dominant offensive force in Week One, practically carrying the team on his 195 pound shoulders to beat the Cleveland Browns. Though subdued in Week Two, he came up with key catches at the end of the game to preserve the victory and run out the clock.
One thing he hasn’t done? Find the end zone. Through two games, 22 targets, 16 catches, Brown has failed to catch a TD pass. It’s the first time since 2013 he went through the first two weeks without finding paydirt once. And with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, if Brown goes without scoring again against the Chicago Bears, it’ll mark the first time that’s happened in three seasons.
In fact, Brown has just one red zone target this year. One that barely counts, a throwaway by Roethlisberger late last week that Brown would’ve needed go-go gadget arms to haul in. Jesse James has more red zone looks than him. A sampling of players around the league who have more than the all-mighty AB: Emmanuel Sanders, Todd Gurley, Rishard Matthews, and Paul Richardson. Didn’t see that one coming.
Only Keenan Allen has 20+ targets and one red zone look. And Allen capitalized on that one chance.
Of course, Brown has never been known as a monster touchdown producer and with Martavis Bryant’s return, it was fair to wonder if Brown would touch double-digit scores this season. Only two Steelers’ receivers have caught a touchdown pass this year. One of those was a shovel to JuJu Smith-Schuster. With the red zone offense still clicking at a pretty good pace, as long as that continues, there isn’t much to complain about. It’s early in the year, the sample size is low, and the stats will normalize in due time. Brown had 15 red zone looks last year so we’re not too far off from that pace.
But for a hyper-competitive player like Brown, and still best receiver in the league, it’ll be a welcome – and overdue – sight to see him celebrate in the end zone. The Bears have allowed some big plays but tighten up in the red zone, giving up just two passing touchdowns in the first two weeks. On paper, the matchup looks good. I mean, with AB out there, it normally does.
Until that score happens, you can bet Brown will be feeling a bit of that pressure. And certainly wanting attention in the red zone. I know AB has a target on his back every week but the Steelers need to find him the ball in those crucial areas of the field.