NASHVILLE – A.J. Brown dropped the ball.
That’s not a metaphor. The Tennessee Titans wide receiver literally dropped the football when it hit him in the hands Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Twice.
The first came midway through the first quarter when the 2020 Pro Bowler got open down the seam and had a chance to deliver a big gain. That set the stage for what was one of the more disappointing performances of his career. Brown was targeted nine times – only twice has he had more passes thrown his way in a game – yet only three ended with receptions.
“It wasn’t a focus issue,” Brown said Wednesday. “It was just me trying to make a move before I caught the ball. And after that, it was a domino effect. I kind of let it get in my head and it kept going.”
The 33.3 percent catch rate ranks as the worst of his career in a game when he has had more than five targets.
Still, the issue with drops is not exactly something new.
Through the first two weeks of this season, Brown is one of five NFL players with at three dropped passes, and his drop rate of 17.6 percent puts him in the top 10. He had two drops Sunday against the Seahawks and one a week earlier against Arizona.
Last season, he had five, more than twice as many as he had as a rookie (two). At this rate, he will set another record in that regard, which is not exactly on his list of personal goals.
“Same thing last year,” Brown said. “I know exactly what it was. When I did it, I was trying to make a move, position myself to make the safety miss and to score. I’ve just got to do the small things first – catch the ball, see the ball all the way in – and do it the right way every time.”
Brown is one of 46 players with at least 125 receptions since the start of the 2019 season (he has 129). His 62.3 percent catch rate ranks 39th among that group, yet he leads those players with an average of 10.71 receiving yards per target – a number that could be even higher with a better catch rate.
Thus far this season, he has seven receptions on 17 targets, a catch rate of just 41.2 percent, and a miserable (by his standards) 5.4 receiving yards per target.
He laughed off Sunday’s struggles immediately after Tennessee’s overtime victory in a Twitter post but made it clear that he is serious in his desire to make sure it does not happen again.
“It was funny after the game, but it ain’t funny at all, to be honest,” he said. “It’s been a long couple days for me. But it’s a part of it. It’s a process, and it’s ups and downs.
“… It’s not going to be the last time I drop passes. But I definitely have to clean it up.”