I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: Antonio Brown will log yet another 100 or more receptions in 2018 for a sixth consecutive season.
Buy (Agree with the Statement):
Antonio Brown recorded 101 receptions in 2017 and he did so in about 13 and a half games. He suffered an injury late in the first half of the Steelers’ 14th game of the season before missing the final two games of the regular season. He also recorded 106 receptions in 15 games in 2016 during a ‘down’ year.
Considering the fact that he is still putting up 100-plus receptions while not even playing a full 16 games, it’s really hard to bet against him continuing to do so, even though what he is achieving is such an incredible statistical anomaly.
He is the best and most consistent wide receiver in the game, and has a quarterback that is always going to trust him enough to give him the opportunities. There are also no obvious changes to the offense that would dictate his seeing a smaller percentage of the workload.
Sell (Disagree with the Statement):
Okay, we need to talk about just how insanely statistically unlikely Brown’s five-year streak has been. The only other player to have ever put together four consecutive seasons of 100 receptions or more was Marvin Harrison, and those were the only four seasons in which he ever put up 100 receptions.
Including Brown, there are only five players in NFL history to have recorded five seasons of 100 or more receptions over their careers. Andre Johnson and Wes Welker both did it, while Larry Fitzgerald has recorded 100 or more receptions in three straight years late in his career to give him five in total. Brandon Marshall actually has six such seasons, but he never had more than three in a row.
If anybody is going to be able to do it six years in a row, you have to think it would be Brown, but he is already in uncharted territory, so it’s a legitimate question to ask how much further out he can get from everybody else.
Bonus question: will Fitzgerald become just the third player to record four straight seasons of 100 reception or more, joining Harrison and Brown?