This is going to be pretty low-hanging fruit, I admit, but would be really be a Pittsburgh Steelers blog if we didn’t take note of the fact that wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster did not make the Pro Bowl? While Antonio Brown did, of course, there is nothing saying that multiple wide receivers from the same team cannot both be deserving, and there is an argument in favor of the 22-year-old over the veteran.
Not one I will be making, of course. If one were to choose, the obvious candidate that Smith-Schuster should have gotten the nod over for the AFC was Keenan Allen, whose numbers across the board were worse or no better, and we all know the bigtime plays that the second-year Steeler has been making all season.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but he has 95 receptions for 1274 yards and six touchdowns. He ranks sixth in the NFL in receiving yards and sixth in receptions as well. His 95 receptions are the most of all players in the AFC, and his yardage is third. DeAndre Hopkins leads the AFC in yardage with fewer than 50 more yards than Smith-Schuster.
Keenan Allen, meanwhile, ranks 14th in the league in receiving yards (1074), 12th in receptions (88), and tied for 15th with Smith-Schuster and others in touchdown receptions (six). The Steelers’ number two guy even manages to produce more yards per catch on top of that.
It’s not as though he doesn’t get the attention, or lacks the highlight-reel plays. Smith-Schuster is a known name, even in Brown’s shadow, with many starting to believe that he is the number one man in Pittsburgh.
Now, could he have helped himself by securing a couple more touchdown receptions this season? Certainly, and I was hoping he would hit double digits in his second season myself, which doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. He’s had at least three or four opportunities in the end zone this year that he couldn’t finish, if we’re being honest.
But his body of work alone, in this season, relatively to what the other players at his position have done, was worthy of entrance into the Pro Bowl, so it’s a shame that he was looked over. Sure, this is just another sour grapes article that probably every blog about an NFL team is going to have up today, but hey, that’s a part of this thing we’re all involved in.
Nevertheless, the Steelers still had six players named to the Pro Bowl, including five on offense. Brown, James Conner, Alejandro Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Cameron Heyward—the latter this time making it outright—all got in. Only Conner is making his first appearance, and in his first season of meaningful participation.