Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: WR James Washington
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Given the current state of the wide receiver position, particularly in light of the ongoing issues with dropped passes, coupled with his own recent success, there seems to be a reasonably good chance that James Washington continues to see his snap count tick upward.
Perhaps some people were not aware of this, but James Washington played at least half of the Steelers’ offensive snaps in a game for the first time since week six, the game before his playing time began to drop, on Monday against the Washington Football Team.
He logged 38 snaps in total during that game, accounting for 54 percent of the Steelers’ snaps. He was targeted four times, catching two passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. His two receptions went for 30 yards and 50 yards, the latter being a short pass that he turned into a long touchdown.
He played more snaps than did rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool, who saw just 31 snaps, the first time that he dropped below 50 percent of the team’s snaps since all the way back in week two, at times even hitting 75-80 percent since then.
Then you have Diontae Johnson, who has dropped five or six passes over the past two games. While he didn’t really lose any snaps in the last game, we could certainly see that happen today. That will be much more likely if he actually drops a pass during the game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t been shy in recent weeks in basically campaigning through the media to say that Washington deserves to be on the field more. It’s always helpful when you have your quarterback behind you as he has been.
Since he had his snap count decline, Washington has only been targeted 16 times over the past seven games. He has caught eight passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. All of that has come in the past five weeks, but Monday was the first time that he put up more than 30 yards in a game, and it’s the third time in that span that he caught more than one pass (never more than two).