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 JuJu Smith-Schuster
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: In what may be his final game as the member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster quietly played one of his best, posting 157 yards on 13 catches with a touchdown in their playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
I realize that this might not go over too well given how much so many members of the fan base have grown to dislike the young wide receiver, but looking at the situation objectively, JuJu Smith-Schuster helped raise his stock with his performance against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night.
The four-year veteran has three games over his four-year career in which he posted 150 yards or more. One came in 2017. Another came in 2018. The final was Sunday, going for 157 yards on 13 catches and a touchdown in a loss to the Browns.
This was his first 100-yard receiving game since the end of October of the 2019 season, and just the second 100-yard game since the 2018 season, a year in which he recorded 100 receiving yards or more eight times.
After posting a career-high nine touchdowns in the regular season in a modified short-yardage role in the Steelers’ offense, Smith-Schuster reminded that he can also be an intermediate and deep threat to teams that will be courting him over the next couple of months as he hits free agency.
Many fans may moan and groan about the 24-year-old’s social media habits and his remark about the Browns being the Browns, but the reality is that front offices won’t care too much about this. He’s still going to get a bunch of money, and the fact is that his final game of his fourth season only helped his cause in that regard by showing a more fleshed-out version of his repertoire than he had been able to demonstrate for most of the past two years.