Outside of JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers receivers have been mostly disappointing. Rookie Diontae Johnson has shown flashes but isn’t ready for a full-time role. Second-year man James Washington hasn’t stepped up despite a connection with Mason Rudolph that dates back to their college days. Beyond those two, Donte Moncrief has been a complete disaster, struggling with drops and ineffectiveness before finding himself inactive in Week Three. Ryan Switzer is an okay special teams player, but as a receiver, he shouldn’t be on the field. The Steelers are historically famous for their ability to scout and pick up productive receivers, but right now, this group has been an enormous disappointment.
The receivers were put into a rough spot when Roethlisberger was lost for the season, but that change doesn’t fully explain the problems. Rudolph is a downgrade, but he’s not the reason Washington can’t get on the field, or Moncrief forgot how to catch despite being in his sixth NFL season. Even Smith-Shuster, to a lesser degree, has been unable to live up to expectations as the new No. 1 option in the Steelers offense.
When dealing with an inexperienced quarterback taking over on offense, the receivers must step up and help out. Unfortunately, the Steelers pass-catchers have failed to do that, creating a passing game that lacks rhythm and effectiveness. Until somebody decides to step up and start making plays on the outside, the offense will continue to struggle when putting the ball in the air. It’s now or never for this group of disappointing targets.