I won't lie, when I heard Martavis Bryant was gonna be out for the season, I became worried about the red zone offense more than the deep plays. When I heard Sammie Coates was in tremendous shape and looked like a totally different player, I knew the big play was still gonna exist.
The red zone offense to my liking/surprise though has been off to a strong start as they are 11-14 in the red zone, while the deep play is very much alive and well in Pittsburgh.
That said, Coates, up until the Week 5 game, had not gotten into the endzone, and Bryant was known for his ability to produce a ton of TD's. Coates turned that around though as he had 2 against the Jets, one on a long bomb and one on a crossing route across the middle in the end zone.
Coates though also had about 4 drops in the game as well. Not a huge surprise for a player who had a 19.1% drop rate out of Auburn. Coincidentally, Martavis Bryant, who was also was known for his lackluster hands out of Clemson, had a 19.1% drop rate as well.
This game showed me why Coates was compared very heavily to Martavis Bryant coming out of college for both good and bad reasons.
First let's look at the bad.
I've seen a lot of people criticizing Sammie Coates for dropping the ball a lot, which I understand but those who are saying this are quickly forgetting how often we said this about Bryant.
Well, he's not Bryant (literally) but he might as well be if you switched their numbers around and gave them the same hair style, granted their bodies are different but you get my point.
We all remember this game. What I remember vividly was Bryant's drops in this game other than the fake FG that changed the game. I was reminded of this game even more when I saw Coates against the Jets (coincidentally, another game with a questionable fake FG).
Is it just me or was that like deja vu?
I get the first one Coates slowed down on the route but still, that's a catchable ball.
The third, wow, didn't that look familiar adjusting the to the ball. I get that Bryant get's less flak for it as he lost the ball due to contact, but it's still a huge play left off the board either way. It also shows that no matter how many times we can deny it, we're getting some of the same risks and rewards on the field from Coates that we would be getting with Bryant.
Without Coates though, this offense wouldn't be nearly as explosive.
Not Just A One Trick Pony
We know both Bryant and Coates are deep threats that can take the top off a defense but what makes them hard to gameplan for isn't just their speed, it's their size combined with that speed.
You can't just play any CB on someone like Coates and expect him to have success, it's also foolish to think that just because he's playing off by about 5 to 10 yards is gonna be enough to stay with him, especially when Ben freezes the safety help like he did on this play.
It's why instead of seeing Marcus Williams continue to play on Coates, who is an obvious speed and size mismatch, the Jets instead opted to put Daryl Roberts who is a much more athletic CB, to play on Coates in off coverage
This would be the kiss of death for a WR like Mike Wallace or Darrius Heyward Bey, but not Coates because unlike Wallace and DHB, he's not a one trick pony.
When you get the reputation of being a deep threat, teams are gonna start playing CB's about 10 to 15 yards off the line but when you do that you open in it up underneath and to complicate this more for the defense, he isn't easy to take down once you get your hands on him either.. Coates isn't a one trick pony, his route tree isn't limited to running go routes down the sideline
This isn't something Coates did at Auburn. Coates was a very one dimensional guy but that's where character and proper coaching make a guy like Coates more than what he was.
In terms of route running compared to Bryant, Bryant has him beat there. Coates is still developing but he's getting better every game and that's important.
Don't look now but Sammie Coates is every bit as important to this team claiming their 7th Lombardi this season as Brown or Bell.
I already explained why Le'Veon Bell is extremely valuable to this offense about 2 weeks ago. He allows Ben to play much more mistake free and because of that the offense itself plays at a much higher efficiency level all together.
Without Antonio Brown, who's gonna soak up double teams and allow guys like Coates to be open deep down field? How is Ben's timing routes and run pass options plays gonna be affected without his best receiver? I hope we never find out.
What are the Steelers gonna be without Coates?
Remember early in the 2014 season before Bryant was inserted into the lineup?
It would look something like that.
Inconsistent and lacking a dynamic playmaker to take the top off a defense.
If it weren't for Coates, this offense wouldn't be where it's at right now.