It’s becoming a bit too easy lately for people to get down on Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver James Washington, around whom select fans have already been tossing around the ‘bust’ label. The second-round pick has just eight receptions on 25 targets this season for only 77 yards, and his lone touchdown came on reception number one back in Week Two on a busted play.
All of his incompletions up until Sunday’s game, however, were attributable to some combination of poor route running, lack of rapport with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, poor throws, or simply not being able to beat his man. None of his previous incompletions when targeted were drops.
I think that’s important to remind when looking at his first drop on Sunday, which came on a deep shot that could have gone for a long touchdown, and even that catch came with a degree of difficulty. He was asked yesterday about what happened on the play.
“For me, you’ve just got to run through it”, he said. “It’s nothing about confidence. You’ve just got to go out there and just overcome adversity and just execute”. In explaining why he left his feet, he said, “I just kind of felt like I misjudged it. The ball, the nose is still in the air, so my part, I just misjudged it, gotta execute better”.
As you can imagine, Washington was also asked about the comments that Roethlisberger made about him the day before during his radio show, in which he was pretty pointed in his criticism of the rookie receiver, and questioned whether or not he was lacking confidence, though he added that he has confidence in his receiver.
“You know, with him being a captain of this team, he has freedom of speech, as well as we all do”, the rookie said of his quarterback. “Like I said, I’ve just got to bounce back”. Regarding regaining the trust of his coaches and his quarterback, he said, “I’ve just got to put in in their eyes and their perspective that I’m capable of making those plays and moving forward”.
Washington knows that he is not where he would like to be at this point in his career, nor where the team would like him to be. Head Coach Mike Tomlin would not even commit to dressing him for the next game.
It’s easy to get down. But he has had his teammates around to pick him up, he said. “Just my brothers around here, the other receivers. When one gets down, we’re all down. They’re just always in my ear giving me encouragement and just trying to get me back up”.
“When I got drafted I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy, but like any rookie, you’ve got to go through adversity”, the Oklahoma State product said of his first year in Pittsburgh. “That’s what I’m going through right now”.