Take Pressure Off JuJu Smith-Schuster
Though the Antonio Brown-era ended rather poorly for both the receiver and Pittsburgh, there is no argument that Brown made life easier for the passing attack. With Brown as the primary target and JuJu Smith-Schuster often facing the second-best corner, it allowed Smith-Schuster to dominate. After Week One, it’s clear that JuJu will step up as the No. 1 guy for the offense, but unfortunately, nobody is stepping up at the No. 2 spot. Offseason addition Donte Moncrief looked like the receiver that has struggled for years to put up production while James Washington showed flashes but was inconsistent overall.
It’s clear that for the passing attack to rebound, somebody beside Smith-Schuster needs to produce. James Conner looked like the team’s second-best receiver in the opening week but that’s not a sustainable model for this Steelers offense.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, for Pittsburgh’s No. 2 receiver spot. Moncrief doesn’t look like the answer, but the solution may still be on the team. Despite his inconsistencies, Washington showed enough through training camp and Week One to overtake Moncrief, and as he grows more comfortable, his production should improve.
Let’s not forget how good the Steelers have been at scouting receiving talent over the years. If the team decided Washington was worth a 2018 second-round pick, there is a strong likelihood that is talented enough to be an impact player going forward. After his flashes against the Patriots, Washington emerging as a consistent weapon in Week Two will be crucial to securing an important victory.