Last season Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown came up 130 yards short of the single season receiving record held by Calvin Johnson with 1834 total yards. This is even more impressive knowing that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sidelined for five games of the season. It is safe to say that Brown very well could have eclipsed the magical 2000 yards mark last season, but can he repeat his outstanding performance?
With Johnson no longer in the league after retirement and few receivers who can go over the 1800 yard mark still in the league the spotlight will firmly be on Brown. The spotlight will be even brighter in the steel city with Martavis Bryant being suspended the entire 2016 season, and this will also warrant more attention from safeties and cornerbacks. The double team situations will be more present and that will open up other receivers for the Steelers more frequently. However, Brown has proven to be elusive and magical with the ball in his hands and he can turn a 3 yard dump pass into an 80 yard touchdown.
Here is the case against him.
• He will be the primary target for double team coverage and that will in turn open up opportunities for Wheaton, Heyward-Bey, Coates, and newly acquired tight end Green.
• The threat posed by Brown will also open up the running game of the two headed monster of Le’Veon Bell and Deangelo Williams who are looking to shatter the hopes and dreams of defenses as well.
• Brown was also not able to train as much in the offseason between suffering a concussion in the wildcard round against the Cincinnati Bengals as well as being featured in “Dancing With The Stars”.
• If Roethlisberger goes down we have seen his numbers significantly drop in the past and Ben has had issues staying healthy for a full 16 games the last couple of seasons.
All in all these are fairly minor issues and should not interfere to terribly much (with the exception of his quarterback going down) and Brown is one of the hardest working receivers in the league. There is the chance for hiccups along the road but his work ethic can drive him through them.
Here is the case for him.
• First of all Brown is entering the magical season for Pittsburgh where he is a year out from free agency. That time that the Steelers look to lock up key players for years to come.
• He has honored and out performed his current deal, becoming the driving force of the Steelers aerial assault.
• Brown has one of the top quarterbacks in the league who specializes in creating passing plays under pressure and Brown is great at getting open in any coverage.
• Brown fell short of the single season receiving yards record by 130 with his starting quarterback off the field for 5 games.
If all things go according to plan and if Brown is able to maintain his push from last season there is no reason why he shouldn’t come the closest to breaking the 2000 yard mark for the first time in NFL history. He knows he will be double teamed, he knows he is in a big money year, and he knows he wants to be the best. Coming into the NFL as a 6th round pick he has had to make phenomenal plays to turn heads and has had to prove his ability in the past. Only time will tell if he is the one to break the mark that no player has been able to break in NFL history.