If you want any salt in the wound on a day in which the Pittsburgh Steelers blew a ten-point fourth-quarter lead, Kansas City Chiefs WR JuJu Smith-Schuster made a pretty damning comment about the Steelers’ offense. Per Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Melissa Stark, Smith-Schuster told her before the game he’s learned more about playing offense in his months as a Chief than he did in five years as a Steeler.
Smith-Schuster told Stark he loves playing under an “offensive-minded” head coach in Andy Reid, still one of the brightest and most creative play-callers and schemers in football. A stark contrast from Mike Tomlin, the rare NFL head coach with a defensive background.
“JuJu Smith-Schuster told me this week it is awesome to have an offensive-minded coach in Andy Reid,” Stark said in her first half report. “He has learned more in these last few months in Kansas City than he did in all five years in Pittsburgh…[Reid] gets you to understand how to read a defense.”
In Pittsburgh, Smith-Schuster had three offensive coordinators: Todd Haley (2017), Randy Fichtner (2018-2020), and Matt Canada (2021). Haley was the most successful of the bunch, of course also benefitting from a prime Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and stellar offensive line, but the Steelers chose not to bring him back after Smith-Schuster’s rookie year. Fichtner was promoted to OC with very middling results, though he spent the 2019 season playing without Roethlisberger. Canada replaced him in 2021 as the Steelers’ offense shrunk even more, running a heavy dose of RPOs and quick-passing game. Smith-Schuster missed most of the regular season with a shoulder injury, returning for the Wild Card game in a loss to his current team, the Chiefs.
Smith-Schuster left in free agency and signed a one-year deal with Kansas City after drawing heavy interest from them following the 2020 season. He cited Roethlisberger and WRs coach Ike Hilliard as reasons why he returned for the 2021 season, and their departures likely sealed Smith-Schuster’s decision to play elsewhere.
As the NBC broadcast pointed out, the Chiefs have the league’s most creative red zone package. They’ve displayed that in the first half of tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, hanging 28 points on one of the top defenses in the league, including on a TE sneak at the end of the first half.
While we didn’t hear Smith-Schuster’s exact quote, the story was passed along by Stark, I don’t know if you could call it a clear shot at the Steelers. Probably more praise about Reid and the Chiefs, who have one of the league’s most entertaining offenses with Patrick Mahomes. It sure helps to be creative with one of the most unique quarterbacks ever under center. But certainly, his comments are eye-catching, especially as the Steelers’ offense continues to flounder.