The Pittsburgh Steelers season didn’t end the way many thought it would, but it shouldn’t take away from the performances of several tremendous players, especially on offense.
The Steelers have been showered with postseason awards. Whether they are All-Pro selections, Pro Bowl bids, and even some Player of the Year considerations. At Pro Football Focus (PFF), they too hand out end of the year awards to players who were the best at what they do.
For the Steelers, a pair of players received those ‘best of’ designations. Take a look at what PFF had to say about Antonio Brown and David DeCastro:
The winner of the 2017 Bruce Matthews Award to the league’s best offensive lineman is Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro.
DeCastro was exceptional as both a run blocker and in pass protection despite the rest of that Steelers line taking a step backwards this year. He didn’t allow a sack all season, the first time in his career that he went the entire year without surrendering one. DeCastro also didn’t miss a snap all year, playing in 1,047 regular season snaps for the Steelers.
His pass protection was so impressive that he only surrendered 15 total pressures across 16 games, which earned him the third-best pass blocking efficiency score in the league at the position. He had five perfect games in pass protection, keeping clean sheets against multiple teams including some with top-quality opposing players.
What’s perhaps most impressive, though, is that pass-blocking may have been the weaker area of his game this season. DeCastro was dominant on the ground, showcasing some outstanding power in the Steelers’ rushing attack. Whether it was driving players off the line at the point of attack or executing blocks on the move when pulling on power runs, DeCastro was consistently crushing defenders and opening up holes for Le’Veon Bell and the rest of the Steelers backs.
Smaller-framed, shiftier receivers who can create even the slightest separation are the new prototype at wide receiver, and no one epitomizes this better than Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown, PFF’s top receiver for the 2017 season.
He can win all over the field — he caught a touchdown pass from four different alignments on offense. The variation and utilization of Brown in the Steelers’ offense is arguably what makes him so difficult to defend, but in the simplest of terms, Pittsburgh allows Brown to be his versatile, athletic self to exploit potential mismatches all across the field.
In 2017, Brown lined up at 10 different alignments, was targeted from eight of those positions and hauled in multiple receptions from five. He saw a total of 21 targets from the slot but did the majority of his work from outside, racking up 85 receptions for 1,295 from an outside receiver position.
Be it his ability across the offense, his prowess on a bevy of routes or his game-changing ability, no receiver was better this year than AB84, our top receiver for the 2017 season.