Reporting Colin Dunlap
Good for Antonio Brown.
If you’re going to run your yap, you better show up —- and he did.
And maybe, after Brown’s performance on Sunday night, Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley will start to fully grasp that he — and not the players — is the one who is expendable.
Just six days after the Steelers’ chief receiver got into a sideline tiff with the chief playcaller, Brown caught nine passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns in a dismal, 40-23 loss against the Chicago Bears.
Brown’s play was a beacon in an otherwise frightfully dark evening for an offense that sputtered through five turnovers and a depressing 3 for 11 on third down.
Brown made a more remarkable catch, when his leaping, in-traffic touchdown late in the third quarter pulled the Steelers within 27-20.
He showed up on Sunday night — in a big way.
Some balked and some cringed, looking at Brown as a sort of malignant character when it came to light last week that he had a sideline confrontation with Haley during the loss to the Bengals.
The naysayers questioned why Brown couldn’t be more of a team player; why he had to offer such a public display of dissention.
A brash, arrogant loudmouth is what he came off as to some.
Not me. I couldn’t have loved it more.
Let’s get something else straight — Brown isn’t arrogant when he celebrates after a catch, either. When he jukes and jives, does a shimmy and shake after just a 4-yard gain, he’s simply showing excitement.
This isn’t Swann and Stallworth and Rocky and Franco and Randy Grossman and Jim Smith and Theo Bell and Greg Hawthorne anymore.
The mills are closed.
The game has taken on a large entertainment quotient; the athletes have become more outwardly festive — even after the most nominal gains.
Get used to it. It ain’t changing.
If he’s smart, Brown won’t change, either.
When he thinks he should be a bigger part of the offense, he will tell the offensive coordinator about it, even yell at Haley if he has to.
Especially this offensive coordinator, the one who never wore a football helmet.
When he makes a play, he will get up and tap, jazz, ballet, fox-trot, salsa, rumba or whatever the heck it is that he does. Know why? Because he’s playing a game and it is meant to be fun.
Who knows where this offense goes from here?
The Steelers might be able to score a heap of points as the season progresses, or they might stammer through games, barely able to push the football down the field.
But after watching Antonio Brown’s performance against the Bears, it is starkly evident the offense has the best chance to succeed if the ball finds Brown’s hands with regularity.
I know it.
You know it.
Here’s something else —- he knew it all along.
He should be commended for standing up to Todd Haley on that Cincinnati sideline.
He should be commended to a deeper degree for backing up his words against the Bears.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.