2020 Offseason Questions: How Much Did Toe Injury Affect JuJu Smith-Schuster In 2019?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: How much did JuJu Smith-Schuster’s toe injury suffered late in the season opener affect him throughout the year?

Since it’s become a topic of discussion yet again, we’re going to talk about JuJu Smith-Schuster and his 2019 season, and why his numbers were so poor. Obviously there were a lot of factors at play. The poor performance at the quarterback position was a major one. Remember, after the Week Two game, Mason Rudolph admitted he’d never thrown to him before.

Not having Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball was an obvious influence in his poor season. Obviously, he also missed four games with a knee injury, and looked worse for the wear in the final two games of the year when he returned. He ultimately played just 573 snaps, 131 snaps fewer than in his rookie season.

The absence of Antonio Brown, and the injury to Donte Moncrief, with the inexperience of James Washington and Diontae Johnson, did not bode well for him, either, or at least presented a steeper hill to climb than he was used to in his first two seasons.

But he ultimately played 11 games with an injured toe. And this question is specifically about that toe injury. While it didn’t cost him any playing time, toe injuries can be nagging and last a while. How much did that affect him last year? If you ask him, of course, he would say not at all, but that’s almost certainly not the case.

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