Despite a disappointing start to his 2019-20 season, Pittsburgh Steelers receiver James Washington might be in line for a breakout Week Eight performance.
In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers used their second-round pick on James Washington, an explosive receiver out of Oklahoma State, with the hope he would develop into a playmaker capable of one day being a starting receiver. After Antonio Brown was traded this offseason, bumping Washington up the depth chart, expectations were raised. Even after Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season, Washington seemed likely to benefit considering his old college quarterback Mason Rudolph was set to take over as the starter. Unfortunately, we have yet to see the James Washington we were hoping would take the league by storm this season as injuries and ineffectiveness have plagued him. That said, fresh off a bye week and with a matchup against the winless Miami Dolphins, is this the week we finally get the breakout we’ve all been waiting for?
The opportunity is certainly there for a monster game. As long as he is healthy, Washington’s speed should allow him to take the top off a Dolphins secondary that, while not horrific, lacks top-end talent outside of cornerback Xavien Howard. With Howard likely to match up with JuJu Smith-Schuster, that leaves an opportunity for Washington to take advantage of less-talented coverage men in Eric Rowe and Ken Webster. Throw in the fact that Rudolph is likely to return and it’s easy to get excited about what the Pittsburgh offense, Washington in particular, will be able to do.
It may be difficult to believe a breakout is coming, especially after the disappointing season he has had so far, but this week feels different. The Dolphins specialize in letting opposing offenses find their groove, and with extra time to prepare, expect the Steelers to come out firing. There’s still plenty of time for James Washington to live up to the hype, and we may see it start to happen in Week Eight.