The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
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: James Washington
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 2 Years
It’s unfortunate that James Washington’s second season ended on a sour note. He was targeted three times in the game, dropping two of them, and the other pass could have been caught as well, with difficulty. It was one of only two games during the 2019 season in which he was held without a reception, aside from the one that he missed due to injury.
Because in the run-up to that finale, the second-year wide receiver had really been blossoming, and coming into his own. He spent the majority of the season functioning as the team’s number two receiver, and even had a stretch in which he was essentially their top target, while JuJu Smith-Schuster missed four games due to injury.
In the eight games leading up to the finale, Washington caught 34 of his 50 targets for 574 yards and three touchdowns. If he can do that for two halves of a season rather than one, then we will have a very legitimate wide receiver on our hands.
Lest we forget, of course, he did this almost entirely without Ben Roethlisberger. Granted, his primary quarterback was, in fact, his college teammate, Mason Rudolph, but it can certainly be argued that he developed a better rapport, or at least success rate, with Devlin Hodges.
For the entire season (over 15 games), Washington caught 44 passes for 735 yards and three touchdowns. His yardage led the team. He also averaged 16.7 yards per reception, demonstrating his potential for big-play ability. He had four receptions of 40 yards or more, with 13 total explosive plays.
One can only hope that he can take his game to another, and more consistent level while playing a full season with Roethlisberger. Yet he will also have to contend with Diontae Johnson potentially eating into his playing time, and emerging as the number two target. The latter already led the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns.