Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster entered Sunday’s game sitting at 866 yards on the season. While it was likely that he would hit 1000 yards by season’s end with six games left to play, the 22-year old wasn’t interested in wasting any more time, posting a 189-yard game to vault him past that threshold for the first time in his career.
Sitting at 1055 yards on the season, he now ranks sixth in the NFL in that category (which is a fact that is ridiculous in and of itself, with eight players accumulating at least 1000 receiving yards in 11 weeks), and fewer than 100 yards separate himself from second place, though Julio Jones is way out in front with 1305.
Said Smith-Schuster, hitting 1000 yards was one of his top goals for the season. “Obviously, every receiver has yards, catches, pretty much touchdowns and I reached that goal. But I’m never satisfied”, he added. He went on to thank his teammates for giving him the opportunity to be in position to reach his goal.
With 77 receptions through 11 games, or exactly seven per game, Smith-Schuster is also on-pace to catch 112 passes in his second season, which would be nearly double his 58 from his rookie season. That would be tied for the third-most in team history, and tied for the most by anybody not named Antonio Brown.
In fact, should he reach 100 receptions, which at this point is likely, he would become just the third player in franchise history to do so. While Brown’s efforts over the past half a decade have made it seem as though it is the norm, having done so in each of the past five seasons (an NFL record for consecutive years), the only other season it has ever happened for the Steelers was Hines Ward’s 112 receptions in 2002.
Prior to Brown, Ward actually owned the top four seasons in team history in terms of receptions. Between the two of them, they own all nine 90-reception season a Steelers player has ever recorded. Smith-Schuster will almost inevitably join that group.
The fact that his quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has so much trust in him makes it no wonder that Smith-Schuster has been able to have so much success so early on in his career. In his post-game comments, he called the second-year receiver “reliable, dependable, and trustworthy”.
It’s hard to ask for a bigger compliment than that from your quarterback. What they have accomplished in his first 24 games dwarfs any other run to begin a career for a wide receiver in franchise history. He is the youngest player in team history to reach 1000 yards in a season and is very near 2000 for his career.