One of the questions the Steelers faced this offseason was how wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster would fare as the No. 1 receiver in the wake of Antonio Brown’s departure.
If one were to go strictly by the numbers, it hasn’t gone well. Smith-Schuster had 111 catches for 1,426 yards last season, but is on pace for 66 catches and 918 yards this season. He’s been held under 20 receiving yards three times this season.
Any discussion of Smith-Schuster’s production has to take into account the loss of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to an elbow injury in the second game of the regular season. Accordingly, head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that his assessment of the wideout’s play isn’t rooted solely in the statistical realm.
“I have no issues with how he has handled himself in some of those matchups,” Tomlin said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Statistics might not tell the story because of a lot of things going on around him. I like his work. I like his professionalism. I like how he wins his one-on-ones. Hopefully, it’s a catalyst for us getting more traction and consistently moving the ball offensively.”
The Steelers have won three straight to change the trajectory of a season that started with a 1-4 record. If those numbers continue to look good, it will be easier to deal with any individual ones that might be falling short.