The Pittsburgh Steelers might not have an obvious superstar wide receivers on their roster right now, but they have several wide receivers who are capable of rising up to the level of a star when their name is called at any given time. Considering their 10-0 record, which remains the best in the league despite the Kansas City Chiefs continuing to breathe down their neck, I would say that it’s working.
Including tight end Eric Ebron, the Steelers currently have four players who have at least 35 receptions for 340-plus yards and four or more receiving touchdowns. They have three players with 500-plus receiving yards, three with 40-plus receptions, and two with five-plus touchdowns as well. Rookie Chase Claypool’s are tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Only a few have more total touchdowns.
Meanwhile, second-year Diontae Johnson just had his first game of double-digit receptions and his first two 100-yard games. JuJu Smith-Schuster was not a big factor yesterday, but had been critical over the past month. James Washington seems to be good for one significant play per game when he plays, and Ray-Ray McCloud continues to generate more opportunities.
This group believes in itself, because it believes in one another and appears to genuinely embrace and revel in each other’s successes. Every big catch, every score contributes to the end game, which is winning, and when one wins, all win.
“We’re very confident because we’ve got guys who can make plays and whatnot all across the field”, Johnson told reporters after yesterday’s game. “We’re just a special group, and we take everything serious. We like to make each other better. If we see something wrong, we tell them about it so they can correct it the next play”.
Smith-Schuster in particular has a reputation for having a ‘fun’ personality, and even quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talked after the game about how blessed he is to be working with such a ‘fun’ group of receivers. But it’s easy to have fun when you’re winning. And it’s easy to win when you put in the work first, which they do. Work hard, play hard. Of course, sometimes the guy throwing the ball has a lot to do with it, too.
“I feel very confident because we have a quarterback that knows what he’s doing back there”, Johnson said, “and he’s been back there for a long time, so we trust him to put us in the right positions and we’re going to make plays for him”.
Roethlisberger remains on pace to break his own franchise record for touchdown passes in a season by at least four or five. He will break the record if he simply averages two touchdowns per game for the remaining six weeks. And these wide receivers—five of them with three or more scores—will be more than ready for them.