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Film Review: A.J. Brown’s Huge Day Against the Texans

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A star in the making is born.

NFL: Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

What can be said about A.J. Brown that hasn’t already been said? He has a strong case for Offensive Rookie of the Year and has been on a hot streak as of late (447 yards on 20 catches, 22.35 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns, and 111.8 yards per game his last 4 games). On the season he’s caught 47 passes for 893 yards, 19.0 yards per reception, and 7 touchdowns.

Against the Texans, Brown was a major bright spot in a 24-21 loss. In his first game against Houston he caught 8 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, including a 60-yard bomb from Ryan Tannehill in the first quarter. His efforts weren’t enough to guarantee a fifth-straight victory, but they continued to cement Brown’s status as a star in the making.

With the All-22 film now out, let’s go over some of my favorite Brown plays against the Texans.

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Right off the snap we’re leading off with Brown’s 60-yard reception against ole reliable Jonathan Joseph. This is a simple go route from Brown, who engages against Joseph’s press coverage. His 4.49 40 time wasn’t exceptional, but as shown here he’s got decent speed against the corner.

Brown wipes away any attempts of a jam with his left hand, clearing leverage for him outside. Tannehill is able to connect with him for (once again) 60 yards on the Titans’ first drive of the game. What’s notable about Brown is he has both the route running prowess and the incredible physicality needed to break away from tight coverage, and his mass was easy to forget about considering he played on the same Ole Miss team as D.K. Metcalf.

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This play offers a nice route break on Brown’s part. He uses the proper technique on the break to eliminate the corner disrupting his route by wiping away the defensive back’s hands. Under most circumstances this would be a routine catch. Unfortunately Brown is unable to secure it at the catch point, as the corner recovers and bats the ball out of the receiver’s hands.

I did mention in the past that Brown did need some polish at the catch point, so plays like these make him an obvious work in progress, but I have faith he will get there. The route running is consistent, and receivers tend to be a lot more consistent catching the ball in their sophomore seasons.

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Brown was notorious for his ability to get yards after the catch at Ole Miss, and as of this writing he has the 13th most YAC of any player this season (407). For example, this play on 3rd and short may not look like much, but the throw from Tannehill is placed a little behind the rookie. At worst, Brown might inadvertently tip this ball in the air for an interception.

No such case of that happening here. Brown snatches the ball in with the quickness of a Venus fly trap, helping out his quarterback and allowing the Titans offense to move the chains.

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In spite of Brown’s bulk, he has prove quite elusive on a few plays this season. This was one of them, and if not for a shoestring tackle the play could have gone for way more than it did. Brown’s spatial awareness at the catch point allows him to plant his feet and evade the hands of the defensive back guarding him in the flat with a spin.

An incredible tackle saves a huge play for the Titans.

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Brown has also proven a big asset in the red zone, scooping up four touchdowns inside the 20. On this play you won’t see a standout route as he’s contained initially. But when Tannehill is in need of help, Brown comes back to help his quarterback and finds a cushion just inside the end zone.

The defensive back on Brown does his best to get him out of the end zone/disrupt the pass, but it’s no use. Brown’s strong, stable footwork allows him to make a unique toe touch grab away from the sideline/corner of the end zone. Seriously I don’t think I’ve seen a touchdown catch quite like this before.

With two games left, A.J. Brown is 107 yards away from reaching 1,000 on the year, which would make him the first Titans wideout to hit this mark since Kendall Wright back in 2013 (1,079). Even if he doesn’t, he’s proven a lot in his rookie season, with an impressive display of route running and unique physicality that also benefits him as a receiver after the catch.

A combination of strength and slipperiness highlight’s Brown’s skill set, and we’ve just begun to scratch the surface.