The Steelers had one of the better offenses (statistically speaking) in the NFL in 2014.
Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell achieved personal bests and even broke some team and NFL records along the way. The offensive line suffered very little in the injury department and became one of the most cohesive groups the Steelers offense has seen in years.
But who is responsible for the Steelers offensive success? Who is at the epicenter? We’ve already taken a look at Big Ben. Is it Brown? Bell? The O-line? Todd Haley?
Let’s now move the microscope to Antonio Brown.
Brown entered into his 5th season in 2014. In 2013, Brown became the #1 receiver after the dust settled from the Mike Wallace drama. He stepped into the role and showed Steeler Nation that they shouldn’t feel disappointed that the Steelers committed to him instead of Wallace.
It was 2014 that Steeler Nation witnessed a marketed shift in Brown. He became a leader on the team and with the younger member of the receiving core. His work ethic continued to be insane, and reaped the benefits of conditioning, hard work, and his God given talent.
Brown had personal bests in all three big categories netting the most receptions (129), yards (1,698), and touchdowns (13). During that he continued his receiving streak. Deemed silly, and more so than not when the Steelers struggled in games they should have won, Brown held the record for most games with at least five receptions and 50 yards.
Jan 3, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs after a catch against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Heinz Field. The Ravens won 30-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
He also holds the record for being the only player in the NFL to ever have 1,000+ yards receiving and 1,000+ yards returning in the same season.
Brown is currently one of the best receivers in the NFL. But, is he the thing that makes this offense click and hum like a finely tuned engine?
Brown has a high reception percentage. He is usually targeted at 10 yards or less for the initial throw, but his YAC is great. He is a favorite target of Big Ben’s – a little over 10% of Brown’s reception come from a scrambling Roethlisberger.
Brown’s ability to revel in the short and mid game allows for the other Steelers receivers to find holes in zone coverage and to stretch the field. Add newly drafted Sammie Coates into the mix, and he and Martavis Bryant will have field days running down the numbers.
There’s always been the argument between a quarterback making the receiver great or the other way around. Brown certainly brings weight his side of the argument.
Without Brown, Roethlisberger would have one less target – a very important one who is his bailout guy during critical third downs. Perhaps defenses would be able to tighten zones without Brown present to wreak havoc.
Without a doubt, Brown is a crucial part to the success of this offense. Take away his presence and his stats, and you are looking at team far under .500. But is he the key to the entire formula?
What do you think Steeler Nation?
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