Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown had a career game today against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Philadelphia’s 35-13 win, with six catches for 156 yards and three touchdowns, all coming in the first half. Brown was being covered by Ahkello Witherspoon before Mike Tomlin replaced Witherspoon with James Pierre, and Brown talked about why he likes single coverage.
“I think I enjoy it the most – being in single coverage. My eyes light up because I know I have a possibility to get the ball. It’s my ball or nobody’s ball. I’m kind of upset at myself because I know the opportunity late in the game, even though it was a flag, I know I could have caught that ball. Another opportunity there was a ball I had dropped, but I let the sun dictate my whole – everything. I couldn’t see the ball. I’m really kind of upset right now because I know – I had a big day, but I could have had an even bigger day if I made the most of those opportunities so there’s definitely room for improvement,” Brown said via official transcript provided by the team.
Brown had 11 targets on the day, so he definitely could’ve done more damage, but what he did was plenty. On his first touchdown, it looked as if Minkah Fitzpatrick could’ve made a play on the ball, but Brown ended up coming to it and hauling it in for a touchdown, while the other two were well-thrown balls that he just burned Witherspoon on.
Brown took advantage of single coverage and made the Steelers pay for not sending more help to Witherspoon. His size, speed and strength are serious assets, and he showed Pittsburgh as much today. Switching Pierre onto him limited his big play ability a little bit, but he still had a 43-yard reception late in the second half that set up a Miles Sanders touchdown run. There just wasn’t stopping Brown today, especially in single coverage. He played true to the “my ball or nobody’s ball” attitude he mentioned, especially on the first touchdown where he took away what probably should’ve been an interception and turned it into six.
Brown’s game today could lead to changes defensively for Pittsburgh. For one, Pierre could replace Witherspoon as the starting outside cornerback, as he played much better against Brown after he came in for Witherspoon today.
Pittsburgh also could potentially reconsider the coverages they use against other big play receiving threats. The Steelers have struggled this year against guys like Ja’Marr Chase, Amari Cooper, Gabe Davis, Stefon Diggs, and now Brown. It probably won’t happen, but the Steelers could scheme differently against other teams’ top weapons so they don’t see as much single coverage. The Steelers have a bye next week before they take on the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, so that’ll be the first time we’ll see any potential changes.