You could’ve replaced “Hines Ward” in that headline and it wouldn’t have missed a beat. That’s how JuJu Smith-Schuster has been tabbed as since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him this April. He’s not allowed to drink. But he can sure block. That’s endeared himself to Todd Haley and the rest of the offense.
Sitting down with Bob Labriola on this week’s edition of Coordinator’s Corner, Haley praised Smith-Schuster’s attitude and development.
“He’s a big guy that is into blocking,” Haley said. “Which, not all receivers, you get that feel from him. There’s a high energy violence to his game. Which even if he’s wrong, he’s doing it all full speed and making guys aware that he’s in there. In the run game, in a game like that, he’s a huge component of what we’re trying to get done.”
Haley is referring to the big running output in last Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. Smith-Schuster had another decleating block on Bell’s first touchdown and the Steelers often asked their receivers to crack the safety, which he seemed to do much more effectively than say, Martavis Bryant.
Apparently an avid golf fan as well, Haley compared him to one of that game’s young stars.
“He’s kind of like the Jordan Spieth of the NFL. You hear that Jordan Spieth is winning majors and you listen to him and you think he’s 30 something years old. But he’s just a kid. And much like JuJu, even though he’s a high energy guy, he’s much more mature from a football standpoint. Which we love.”
Jordan Spieth was 21 years old when he won the 2015 Masters, the second youngest in golf history to do so (thank you Wikipedia).
Smith-Schuster had already cut heavily into Eli Rogers’ snap count prior to last week. With Rogers inactive against the Ravens, Smith-Schuster played 71% of the snaps, a number he’ll likely hover around, or increase, each week that Rogers does not suit up.
He already has found the end zone twice on 14 targets and has shown unusually impressive chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are excited about him and Smith-Schuster’s attitude is one of just plain excitement. Odds are strong he’ll continue to bring energy, and impact, to the Steelers’ offense the rest of the season.