One of the biggest questions regarding the 2019 Steelers offense relates to whether new No. 1 receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will be able to handle the extra attention that comes from being the top option in the passing game. Coach Mike Tomlin explained on Wednesday that this is nothing new for the team’s 2018 MVP.
“He’s used to that,” Tomlin told reporters covering the Seahawks on Sunday. “He faced double teams a year ago. A lot of people [are] capable of doubling two people on possession-like situations. That was often a tactic that was employed against us a year ago where they doubled him and Antonio [Brown]. Him facing double teams particularly in situational football is not anything new. That’s why it’s important to strengthen ourselves as a collective unit then we are simply going to distribute the ball where the coverage tells us to and know that JuJu is going to get his opportunity to be impactful in the long run.”
It’s one thing to be doubled in certain situations and to be doubled consistently and another to consistently beat double coverage. That’s what Smith-Schuster will have to do, especially without getting him much help from the rest of the team’s other receivers.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger spread the ball to nine different receivers, with Smith-Schuster getting eight targets and six catches. Donte Moncrief, the top candidate to become the new No. 2, had 10 targets but managed only three receptions.