The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major set challenges facing them for the offseason of 2019 after they managed to miss the postseason for the first time in five years. The failure has been taken especially grievously because of the fact that the team was in position to control their own fate even for homefield advantage with six games remaining before dropping four games.
And so they find themselves getting the exit meeting process underway at least two weeks earlier than they have had to in years, since they have made it to at least the Divisional Round since 2015. Hopefully they used those extra two weeks with purpose.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2018 season.
Player: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 2 Years
The Steelers were counting on a second-year jump from young wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster this past season. They got that in spades. The former second-round pick had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver not named Antonio Brown in franchise history.
His 1426 receiving yards would rank first in team history were it not for Brown. Instead it’s only fifth. His 111 receptions would be just one shy of Hines Ward’s 112, the only season by a Steelers player prior to 2013 with over 100 receptions, but Brown has caught 129 and 136 passes in two seasons before, so he only ranks fourth.
Now, what he needs to work on yet is scoring more. He has caught seven touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, which certainly isn’t bad, especially for somebody who is not your number one receiver, but that doesn’t even crack the top 30.
Still, the 22-year-old showed a little bit of everything this past season. He was a possession receiver. He was a deep threat. He was a YAC guy. He made tough catches in traffic. He made circus catches. He converted on third down. He’s pretty close to a complete receiver already.
He still could use some refinement in the nuances of his route running, and his hands are not elite. He has to double-clutch a good number of passes and many of those opportunities have resulted in incompletions after allowing a defender time to make a play that he shouldn’t have had.
So he’s not perfect. Nobody is, not even Brown. Smith-Schuster has obviously got a bright future—even a bright present for that matter as he prepares to participate in the Pro Bowl—but the question this offseason is if his next challenge will be to continue to be who he is without Brown working opposite him.