Steelers News

JuJu Smith-Schuster: ‘James Conner’s Doing What James Conner Does’

The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the top-ranked scoring offenses in the NFL so far this season, and are averaging more than 30 points her game right now. The league is actually at an all-time high in scoring right now, and they have been keeping pace with that, but it will be interesting to see if that can be sustained throughout the season.

The story of the season so far has really been about the collective. On both sides of the ball, you have so many people contributing. Defensively, the Steelers lead the league in sacks, and that’s because they’ve gotten contributions from so many players. They have eight interceptions, captured by seven different players.

Then you have an offense that has seen seven different people score a touchdown so far this season. Chase Claypool leads the way with six, but James Conner is catching up to him with four, with a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games, and three 100-yard efforts in that span.

“I think, over the previous years—he has always been super focused, but I think this year, he’s having so much fun”, teammate and draft classmate JuJu Smith-Schuster said about Conner on Wednesday. “He’s out there balling. When we’re up 20 points, he’s out there running the ball, and James Conner’s doing what James Conner does. It’s nothing new. This is what you get out of him”.

Statistically, he certainly is having a productive season. He has 369 rushing yards, 360 of which have come in the past four games, averaging a career-high 4.9 yards per rush. He is averaging exactly one rushing yard fewer per game than he did in 2018. He hasn’t been a big part of the receiving game yet, but I expect that is still in development.

If he continues on his current trajectory, Conner will be setting himself up well for free agency in March. He is on pace to hit 1181 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns, and those are certainly plausible numbers, especially when you consider how they are dragged down by week one.

Of course, the question with him is always whether or not he can stay healthy, but he has since his ankle got nicked in the season opener and he checked out of the game early, likely for precautionary reasons more than anything else.

His 2.5 yards after contact per attempt is the highest of his career so far, as is his rate of broken tackles—one every 9.4 attempts. And if he has another 100-yard game against the Tennessee Titans, he will surpass his rushing yardage output from 2019.

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