Many saw the tide turning for JuJu Smith-Schuster and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense following their first game off of the bye week, or at least they hoped they had. Up to that point in time, the passing game had been predicated almost entirely upon short screens and checkdowns with the occasional selected deep shot.
For whatever reason, perhaps with something to do with the way that the Miami Dolphins were choosing to play them, perhaps also due to the in-game circumstances, Mason Rudolph was attacking the ball further down the field, ending up with an average intended air yards per pass attempt figure north of 13.
Outside of that game, it’s been about half that, and Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts was no different. And Smith-Schuster’s numbers reflected it. After his first 100-yard game of the season, the third-year wide receiver mustered just 16 yards on three receptions.
It’s the third time this season that Smith-Schuster has bene held to fewer than 20 yards in a game, though he has had 75 yards or more in the other five games. Interestingly enough, and perhaps—hopefully—by coincidence, those three games in which he was held to under 20 receiving yards account for three of the Steelers’ four wins.
And that is one of the reasons he and the Steelers aren’t really worrying too much about it. As long as they are able to do other things and win while doing it, Smith-Schuster is cool with his numbers, or so he seems, and thus so is the team.
how he’s done relative and statistics are probably two different things because it doesn’t
happen in a vacuum. I’ve got no issues with how he’s handled himself relative to some of those
matchups, but statistics might not tell the story because a lot of things going on around him. I like his
work. I like his professionalism. I like how he wins his one on ones. Hopefully it’s a catalyst for us, in
terms of getting more traction and consistently moving the ball offensively.
”How he’s done and relative to statistic are probably two different things”, head coach Mike Tomlin said in commenting on the subject. “It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I’ve got no issues with how he’s handled himself relative to some of those matchups, but statistics might not tell the story because there are a lot of things going on around him”.
“I like his work. I like his professionalism”, he added. “I like how he wins his one-on-ones. Hopefully it’s a catalyst for us in terms of getting more traction and consistently moving the ball offensively”.
On the season, Smith-Schuster is sitting at 33 receptions for 459 yards and three touchdowns. He’s no longer on-track to have a 1000-yard season unless he picks up the pace going forward.