Even in a year in which the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense has been heavily criticized for their struggles, and certainly not without merit, it is worth noting that their group of wide receivers this season did something that no other Steelers team in history had ever done before.
This might not be the ‘Killer Bs’ offense, but the Steelers young wide receivers for the first time in team history produced three players to record at least 800 receiving yards all in the same season. In fact, no other Steelers team has even produced three players with at least 700 receiving yards in a single season.
In addition, it is the first season since 2014 that they have produced three players to register at least 60 receptions, when Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Heath Miller all did it. Brown, Miller, and Mike Wallace also did it in 2012. Miller, Hines Ward, and Santonio Holmes did it in 2009 as well, but these are the only other three occurrences in franchise history.
Producing three players with at least seven receiving touchdowns is equally rare in team history, and the Steelers have not done that since 2007. Ward, Holmes, and Miller all achieved that mark that year. It’s also the only other time in team history that it has ever been done before this year.
In his fourth season with the team, JuJu Smith-Schuster caught 97 passes this season for 831 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. Second-year wide receiver Diontae Johnson finished the year with 88 receptions for 923 yards, leading the team, and seven touchdowns. Rookie Chase Claypool contributed 62 receptions, setting a new team rookie record, for 873 yards and nine touchdowns, which ties Louis Lipps’ rookie record. He also had 11 total offensive touchdowns, which also ties the team rookie record, shared by Lipps and Franco Harris.
Of course, you don’t make your legacy in Pittsburgh by running up the stats sheet in the regular season. The teams that fans remember in Steelers history—at least in a positive way—are the ones that hoist the Lombardi Trophy by the end of it.
While this offense might have a lot of warts, and they have been very open with that, what they do have is a bunch of young wide receivers who are capable of making plays when they are on their game, and that is the resource upon which they must rely. They also have some depth here with James Washington capable of coming in and contributing as well.
Still, it’s a least worth noting the unique accomplishment in team history that these young wide receivers achieved this year, in what may prove to be their only season together as a unit, as Smith-Schuster is a pending unrestricted free agent come March.