I wrote an article for yesterday morning prior to the game wondering if the Pittsburgh Steelers might not give wide receiver Ryan Switzer a bigger role in the offense going forward, something that we saw a glimpse of in the fourth quarter of their comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars the week before.
The Steelers only acquired the second-year receiver in late August, and he is not exactly a polished veteran, so it wouldn’t be surprising if his role were to expand over the course of the season. His competition for playing time has been rookie James Washington, who has had quite a difficult time getting opportunities to contribute and capitalizing on them. He has just eight receptions on 25 targets so far.
Switzer saw a season-high 24 offensive snaps last week. While I don’t have a snap count yet for yesterday’s game, it’s probably safe to say that he surpassed that mark, as he had his most productive day yet as a receiver for the Steelers.
He posted nearly a career-high six receptions during the game for 67 yards, including a career-long 24-yard reception at the end of the second half that set the offense up with a first and goal at the seven-yard line, even if it ultimately took a touchdown pass from Chris Boswell to Alejandro Villanueva to cap off the drive.
Over the course of the past four games, Switzer has now caught 14 passes for 147 yards, and considering the shallow depth of target of the vast majority of his receptions, he has been picking up the pace in terms of the efficiency of his receptions as well. He was averaging just 5.2 yards per catch prior to that point.
He now has 33 receptions on the season for 214 yards and one touchdown, in addition to five rushing attempts for 18 yards. His increased playing time has given JuJu Smith-Schuster more opportunities to play on the outside, and that has led to some big games in the past two weeks.
Given the success of this arrangement over the span of the past five quarters, it would be reasonable to assume that the Steelers would like to continue to get this look involved in games. Switzer actually saw more time out of the slot yesterday than did Smith-Schuster, the first game all season anybody but Smith-Schuster could say that all year.