Antonio Brown Rated NFL's Top Receiver

By Ed Bouchette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2 years ago

Good morning,

This morning, we bring you some interesting observations and ratings from Pro Football Focus, which has fast become the go-to website for grading individual football players on a weekly and cumulative basis.

The first is Antonio Brown, on his way to his best season catching the ball and maybe the most prolific in Steelers history. With 41 receptions after five games, Brown is on pace to get 130 – if, naturally, he keeps up the pace.

PFF ranks him as the best performer at wide receiver in the NFL through six weeks, which in the Steelers case is five games. Brown comes in with a rating of 14.0 overall, which accounts for all kinds of stats, including blocking. Not only is that best in the league, according to PFF, so is his 12.8 rating purely as a receiver. He is the only receiver in the league in double-digits. Second is Jordy Nelson at 8.7.

PFF did not blame Brown solely for the missed catch in the end zone. They called it part drop, part breakup. Also, Brown drew a 25-yard pass interference penalty on Antonio Cromarite in the third quarter that put the Steelers at the Jets 37 and helped lead to a field goal and 19-6 lead.

Here’s what Ben Roethlisberger told me last week:

“This is what I think is going to happen: He’s going to start drawing more attention, which is going to open things up for Jerricho and Emmanuel, so their numbers are going to start getting better, I would assume. They have to watch Antonio, he’s a playmaker. With a weapon like that, other guys have to step up too.”

That’s precisely what happened Sunday in New York, although Brown did catch 9 passes for 86 yards, both team highs. Heath Miller, though, had another good day with six receptions for 84 yards and Emmanuel Sanders was single-covered by an injured cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, and blew by him to catch a 55-yard touchdown pass.

Anyway, PFF continued to heap praise on Brown, calling it “another great day for Antonio Brown.’’

They were not so complimentary of Le’Veon Bell, confirming our game-day suspicions that he was missing holes and not breaking any tackles. They graded Bell at a minus-1.2 for his running on Sunday, when he gained 34 yards on 16 carries. Their analysis yielded just one missed tackle by Bell for the day. To put that in perspective, Felix Jones graded better (5-18) at 0.4.

Ben Roethlisberger again was graded high for his performance, the first in which he threw no interceptions and topped 100 passer rating. PFF said he completed all 13 passes he threw between the numbers for 179 of his 264 yards passing Sunday.

Every offensive lineman received a positive rating for their pass blocking, not so much for their run blocking, although it’s important to note that Kelvin Beachum, at 0.5, received the highest grade of the bunch for his run-blocking.

It also is important to note that the Steelers were running and blocking against the NFL’s second-best run defense, in fewest yards allowed.

On defense, the best-rated players on Sunday were Cortez Allen, Ryan Clark, LaMarr Woodley and Cameron Heyward, in his first NFL start. Heyward played 53 snaps and Ziggy Hood, the defensive end he replaced, had 36. Interestingly, PFF wrote that Jarvis Jones combined for a sack with Woodley, who was given the sack by himself by the press box stats crew.

Also this from PFF:

“Lamaar Woodley is currently the third most productive pass rusher at 3-4 OLB in Week 6, with an PRP Rating (Pass Rushing Productivity) of 18.2”