The Pittsburgh Steelers have a very deep wide receiving corps, and it might be the most dynamic of Ben Roethlisberger’s career.
Ben Roethlisberger has been around long enough to see some things. Long enough to have played with a lot of great players, and completed passes to some legends in Pittsburgh Steelers franchise history.
Just think about some of the receivers Roethlisberger has thrown passes to during his career:
I could go on, but you get the picture. Regardless, some pretty impressive names in the list above. One question many want to have answered is where the current wide receiving corps of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud rank all time on Roethlisberger’s list.
He was asked about that Wednesday during his weekly media session, and he said this group is as complete as they come.
“It’s a special group. I think it’s complete in a sense that everyone is contributing, and everybody is getting moved around.” Roethlisberger said. “If you look at an offense, you have your traditional X and your traditional Z and F. A lot of times those guys stay in that spot. What we’ve done this year is kind of throw the letter out the window and just say you’re going to go to this spot, you’re going to go to this spot.
“That’s a credit to those guys that they don’t need to be in their memorized spot. They’re able to learn the whole package and understand when things are changed what they’re supposed to do. In terms of just moving guys around and them understanding, I think it’s pretty cool.”
Despite the receiving corps being extremely young, all are still within their first four years in the NFL, it has been JuJu Smith-Schuster who has stepped up as the leader for this group.
“He’s [JuJu Smith-Schuster]’s a guy, obviously, that has been in this system for a while now. He’s a guy that I can line up anywhere, and he knows what to do. What you see from him in terms of his demeanor, his attitude when the ball is in his hand is determination. It’s unbelievable.” Roethlisberger said about his most veteran wide receiver. ‘There have been times in the last couple games where I have gotten the ball to him on 3rd – and-whatever, and he has caught it a little bit short of the first down. I have 100 percent confidence that he’s going to find a way to get the first down. He’s just a competitor. He is so fun to play with.
“I’m so proud of him. He’s not putting up gaudy numbers like he has in years past, but the things that he is doing is just as important for his offense and this team as in any year that he has done.”
What is astonishing about Smith-Schuster is how since he was drafted out of USC, he has thrived in the slot. When most receivers want to work on the outside, Smith-Schuster has embraced the grit and determination to make the tough catches, to get the tough yards and to take the tough hits which come with playing the slot. Just don’t think it doesn’t get noticed by his quarterback.
“He [JuJu Smith-Schuster]’s tough, right?” Roethlisberger stated. “He can make some of those combat catches. He gets those first downs when you need them. He’s smart. He’s a guy, like I said, that you can move around and put him pretty much anywhere, and he will know what to do. He helps get other guys lined up. When you’ve got a guy, when push comes to shove, when the rubber meets the road—all the different slangs you want to use—when you have a guy like JuJu [Smith-Schuster] that I know and trust in, it makes you feel pretty comfortable.”
Right now the Steelers are a pretty comfortable unit when it comes to their offense. Sure, they could be running the ball better, but they are also averaging 30.1 points per game. The hope is as the offense continues to hit their stride, the wins will keep coming.
Next up? A trip to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars, and hopefully returning to Pittsburgh with a 10-0 record. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on that game, and more, surrounding the black and gold.