The disconnect between Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown has been one of the most perplexing storylines throughout the entirety of the NFL this season. While he is still on pace to record over 100 receptions, 1000 yards, and 10 touchdowns, he is not having the typical ‘Antonio Brown’ season by the eye.
It’s not as though everybody isn’t aware of this, and they are all getting asked about it. Including offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, who said that the two have had a good week of practicing in connecting.
“There was one today we didn’t make”, referring to a practice session this week. “It was just off, his ball was off, ‘A.B.’ didn’t make the grab. The next one that was close to him, he could have caught it, the DB made a play. But overall today, pretty good practice”.
That has pretty much been the story all season. A number of passes have been ‘just off’. There were a couple—like, maybe two or three—passes that Brown might have been able to make a supreme effort to grab. On other occasions, the pass was played well defensively. But they have still hooked up here and there, including on two explosive-play touchdowns.
“We hooked up early in the season, threw a go-ball to him in Cleveland”, Fichtner reminded, also noting the long touchdowns that came against the Ravens on Sunday night. “Some have been off, some have been not thrown perfectly and some have been played well. I don’t know that there’s any one answer for that”.
But he added that the team “didn’t emphasize anything as far as those two” this week, instead just concentrating on having as good of an overall practice as they could. “There’s great communication amongst them, work today, awesome. We’re just going to stay the course”.
As I have said all along, I really think it’s just a matter of Roethlisberger putting it together, because he has been the one missing the passes. It’s not as though Brown has been dropping passes and constantly being in the wrong spot. The latter may have happened here and there, but certainly nowhere near enough to explain a career-low catch rate of under 55 percent.
The quarterback himself has admitted multiple times since Sunday’s game that he puts the blame squarely on his shoulders. “I just have to play better”, he said. “It has nothing to do with him and things that are going on, it’s just about me”.
Roethlisberger wasn’t exactly playing his best football in the fifth game of the year a season ago either. He threw five touchdowns that week. Let’s hope he does a bit better job this time around.