While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have had an ugly game last week when it comes to drops—or to be more specific, they had an ugly start to the game—over the course of the season their corps of pass-catchers have actually been among the most reliable in the NFL—and yes, Antonio Brown has a huge part to play in that.
According to ESPN, following Sunday’s game against the Packers, during which the quartet of Martavis Bryant, Justin Hunter, Eli Rogers, and Jesse James combined to drop five passes—by far their highest total in a single game—they ranked tied for ninth in terms of drop percentage league-wide at 3.4 percent.
These teams drop the fewest (and most) passes this season!#TitanUp #Texans #LARams #Bengals50 #DallasCowboys #GoBills #OnePride #SKOL #FinsUp #HereWeGo #RavensFlock #GoSaints #GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/D0fbYEqX92
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) November 28, 2017
While the determination of drop is largely subjective, a fact that is simply unavoidable, I have endeavored to attempt to track the team’s drops throughout the season, and entering the Packers game, I had the Steelers with 13 drops on the season.
Entering the game, Le’Veon Bell and Bryant led the team with three drops apiece, but Bryant’s drop in the game gave him the lead with four. Vance McDonald, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Brown were the other players that I had down for two drops, while Rogers had one.
The drops now stand as follows: four for Bryant, three for Rogers, three for Bell, two for McDonald, two for Smith-Schuster, two for Brown, one for James, and one for Hunter. All told, that is 18 drops in 11 games, which works out to a little more than a drop and a half per game. Prior to that game, they were averaging 1.3 per game.
Frankly, I really don’t know where ESPN got its numbers from, however, I must admit. They are obviously a far more conservative grader of drops than I am, and yet I still can’t get the numbers to work out to a number that rounds out to 3.4, using total pass attempts or completions plus drops, plugging in any number of drops.
But the important thing here is that they used the same standard for every team, and the Steelers still finished as being among the more sure-handed teams in the league, even after their worst game of the season—again, by far—in that aspect.
One thing that I want to note is that the drops for Bryant are nothing new. He had double-digit drops during the 2015 season as well, and if you consider the reduced rate at which he is playing this year, relative to targets, I would imagine that it works out to a similar level.
Smith-Schuster had two bad-looking drops this year, but had generally proven to be sure-handed, making some tough catches on top of it all. Bell’s drops are not terrible, either, when considering the workload that he gets. After all, he just caught 12 passes.