‘Breakout Game’ Still Awaits Washington, According To Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receive James Washington had a career game Sunday in the team;s home win against the Cleveland Browns as the Oklahoma State product caught all four passes throw his way for 111 yards and a touchdown.  On the heels of that solid performance against the Browns, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked on Tuesday during his weekly press conference if he would characterize Washington’s play on Sunday as a “breakout game.”

“No, I like to think those type moments lie ahead,” Tomlin said. “You know, those significant moments. He made some plays, no doubt, but a breakout game, you know, I’ve got visions of what a breakout game looks like and it’s pretty rare air.”

While not considered a breakout game for Washington on Sunday by Tomlin, it was still one that has to have the Steelers head coach excited about what lies ahead for the young wide receiver. And not only just that game against the Browns as Washington has now put together a nice string of consecutive games.

In the Steelers last five games Washington has registered 20 receptions for 417 yards and three touchdowns. In the last five weeks of NFL play, only four other plays have more receiving yards than Washington’s 417. It’s also worth pointing out that two and a half of those five games included the Steelers not having their top wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, playing across from Washington.

Washington certainly seems to have good chemistry going with current Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges so it will be interesting to see if the two players can continue that moving into the final quarter of the 2019 regular season.

On Sunday the Steelers will face an Arizona Cardinals defense that hasn’t been great against this season. Entering Week 14 the Cardinals defense has allowed a league-worst 60 explosive passing plays that gained 20 yards or more. While Washington only has 30 total receptions on the season, 11 of them have resulted in gains of 20 yards or more. Those 11 explosive plays also averaged 35.7 yards and nine of them have come via pass attempts in which the football traveled more than 15 yards in the air past the original line of scrimmage.

Can Washington ultimately register what Tomlin would characterize as being a “breakout game” on Sunday against the Cardinals? That might be hard to do, but at the very least, perhaps another 100-plus yard receiving game is possible with one or two of his receptions resulting in a touchdown.

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