Will Antonio Brown be a decoy on Sunday?

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It will be four weeks on Sunday since Steelers receiver Antonio Brown suffered a partially torn calf muscle that landed him at a local hospital (possibly to monitor him for the development of compartment syndrome). Reports consistently have indicated that he’ll be available to play during the playoffs. The question is whether he’ll actually play.

Brown could be a decoy, drawing attention from the Jacksonville defense and opening up other areas of the field until they realize he’s not his normal self. Even if it helps to soften up a stingy defense only for one or two drives, forcing the Jacksonville defense to obsess over the best receiver in football could allow Pittsburgh’s other weapons to thrive.

Or maybe Brown isn’t a decoy, but the Steelers simply want the Jaguars to think he is. Under that scenario, the Jaguars would not shade coverage in his direction until he proves he’s still the guy he was. Which will make it easier for him to do just that.

Whatever Brown’s health and status, others will need to step up. The good news for the Steelers is that veteran running back Le'Veon Bell, who had skipped all of the offseason, training camp, and preseason, has performed much better than the Week Five game involved the two teams. (Bell had 47 yards rushing on 15 carries in the loss.) Likewise, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had only four catches for 58 yards, has performed better and better since then.

But Brown bedeviled the Jags for 10 catches for 157 yards. While they don’t need that same level of performance to beat the Jaguars (again, that didn’t make a difference last time), the offense collectively needs to perform better than it did the last time around. But that’s obvious.

What isn’t obvious is whether and to what extent Brown will be able to make a significant contribution against the Jaguars. We’ll find out in five days.

18 responses to “Will Antonio Brown be a decoy on Sunday?

  1. Thought it was a torn calf muscle? Then they said it was just a contusion (bruise)…

  2. The previous matchup was 3 months ago. A lot has changed. Jags are no longer a surprise (defensively), and there is tape to study, showing how other much less talented teams than the Steelers, had success against them. Steelers Offense and Defense is now in rhythm, unlike earlier in the season when they were struggling to find their groove. Jags have not been consistent at the end of the season, which is arguably the most important time of the season; to develop momentum heading into the playoffs. I expect a much different outcome.

  3. Yeah, he sure did bedevil them for 10 catches and 157 yards…how many TDs did he score in that game? Oh, none? Yup, he sure did show those Jags who was boss by losing 30-9.

  4. The Pats went that route with Gronk in the 2012 (2011 season) Super Bowl vs. the Giants. Gronk even stood the entire media day session. I bought it hook line and sinker. When Gronk tried to run routes you could tell we wasn’t even close to 100%. More like 75%.

  5. Blake Bortles in 20 degrees. I smell the Steelers grabbing an early lead and riding their other all pro Leveon Bell behind all pro David Decastro for an ugly, boring, good old fashioned Steelers win.

  6. wvrocks says:
    January 9, 2018 at 2:26 pm
    Steelers Offense and Defense is now in rhythm

    by kick off it will be 3 weeks since they’ve played. I have seen that kill the rhythm more times than I can count.

  7. Ive had a torn calf, just small tear. Hurts like hell and takes a while to heel to the point where it doesnt affect you, certainly when we are talking about an elite athelete going full speed. Also its easier to tear it far worse, even to a level where it becomes serious. No way is he going full speed and trying only risks him re injuring. They are better off trying to beat Jacksonville without him and working toward having him for the Patriots. Even then I dont know that he will be full speed ready before well after the season ends. And maybe they know this they just want teams to prepare for him. But if thats the case then they are better off not showing the Patriots anything this coming week. That is unless they are unsure they can even get past Jacksonville to where the Patriotswould matter.

  8. The last time the Steelers played the Jags in the playoffs — at Heinz Field no less — Small Ben in Big Games threw 2 interceptions including a magnificent 63 yard pick-6. The Jags led 28-10 going into the 4th quarter until Big Bum rallied for a couple of garbage time garbage touchdowns. Expect more of the same. Take the Jags and the 7.5 points.

  9. citizenstrange says:
    January 9, 2018 at 3:22 pm
    The last time the Steelers played the Jags in the playoffs — at Heinz Field no less — Small Ben in Big Games threw 2 interceptions including a magnificent 63 yard pick-6. The Jags led 28-10 going into the 4th quarter until Big Bum rallied for a couple of garbage time garbage touchdowns. Expect more of the same. Take the Jags and the 7.5 points.
    _____________________________________________________________

    And since that time the Steelers have played in three Super Bowls, winning two. How many Lombardi Trophies adorn the Jaguars stadium? Oh zero. Like your comments.

  10. Steelers are well known for overstating injuries. If he partially tore his calf, it doesn’t heal in 4 weeks. That’s a medical fact. It might feel good, but once you accelerate, or cut, you will feel it.

  11. Don’t believe a word the Steelers or Brown say about injuries.A couple weeks ago AB said the injury was very minor and he could’ve played Week 17 if that game was critical.Now 2 weeks later still question marks.All hot air !

  12. Stiller43 says:
    January 9, 2018 at 2:39 pm
    So he’ll either be a decoy…or he won’t. Solid analysis here.

    Agreed. But it nonetheless does ring the advertising revenue register.

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