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If Washington’s Name Is Called, He Will Be Ready

Steeler Nation

Administrator
Staff member
One of the many off-season mysteries as far as the Pittsburgh Steelers are concerned, is what the wide receiving core is going to potentially look like going into the new year. The main reason due to the fact that Pro Bowl wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a free agent next month, and whether or not he returns to Pittsburgh has still remained in question. Although not the number one option last season, JuJu was the type of player that was gritty, he’s reliable and will fight for the extra yards when needed — the kind of player that every coach wants to have on their team.

Not to say we are going to lose him in free agency, obviously a lot could change from here on out and the teams exact plans have been kept quiet up to now. But all we can do is speculate for the time being. Even with all these variables, I wouldn’t say there is much stress involved going into this off-season evaluation. Pittsburgh is deep with young talent at that particular position, having players with the potential to be Pro Bowlers on both sides. Needless to say, this position group is light years away from hitting the panic button.

One of the names that was rather quiet this past season was that of 3rd year WR James Washington who has been waiting patiently for his opportunity to arise. Washington has sort of been the odd man out when it comes to the plethora of receivers this team has had since his arrival. When on the field, Washington has been nothing short of productive and has proved that he can be a comfort blanket for Ben Roethlisberger or any QB on our roster when needed. So much so, that the future Hall of Fame quarterback didn’t hold back his support of Washington seeing the field more.

In a game this previous season against the Baltimore Ravens, while not as productive as he would have liked to be, Washington stepped up in a big moment catching a tight pass into double coverage on a 3rd & 6 with minimal time left, allowing Pittsburgh to run out the remaining minutes on the clock to capture a win. In a postgame interview, when asked why he chose to go in Washington’s way on that 3rd down play, Ben stated that he had full confidence that Washington would make that grab, saying “I wouldn’t have thrown it if I didn’t believe in him”. He then followed that up by showing his support for Washington, “When you give a guy a chance to make a play and he makes it, and he makes it over and over, then that man should continue to get opportunities”. It was clear, Washington was obviously making an impact on such a consistent level that even his own quarterback was lobbying for playing time.

Over the past two seasons, battling over playing time with rookie WR Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and JuJu himself, Washington caught 74 passes for 1,127 yards and a total of 8 touchdowns. He struggled to see the field much his first season with the black & gold. He followed his rookie year up by, ironically enough, having his best season yet as a pro when Ben was out for the year due to injury. He then struggled to find time on the field once again, due the emergence of both young playmakers Claypool and Johnson in 2020. Washington’s downfall is something he obviously cannot control. He just needs to be on the field more.

Washington has proved that he will be ready if and when his name is called. It seems like he has the support from the organization, although it does seem like SteelerNation would like to see the Steelers re-sign Smith-Schuster the fan favorite, and rightfully so, but when it comes to free agency, we tend to see the organizations’ sense of urgency decrease when there’s a guy waiting in the wings who has done enough to prove his worth in the league. If that is the case, I think it is safe to say that Washington’s consistency is something that is going to translate into more and more production if given the opportunity.



Do you believe James Washington is ready to step up? Comment below!

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slashsteel

Well-known member
Like Washington, Jon. Like Conner for different reasons I think his ceiling is limited. Saying that I like him and his country boy full of effort. I think he is more of a possession receiver. Not that there is anything wrong with that. If he squeezes some more production out? Good for him/us.
 

SteelerFan448

Well-known member
Washington is a nice No. 4, or 3b receiver when someone ahead of him needs a breather or if you have two studs ahead of him. Right now the Steelers don't have any studs and their depth is very thin. If not for so many other needs, WR may be near the top of my draft board.
 

Drink IRON City

Contributor whining about a tag
Washington has the surest hands on the team. He catches what is thrown his way. Last season the deep ball was non-existant but the year before he was the BEST receiver on the team even when Mason and Duck were throwing the deep ball. I don't want to write him off but I also don't think he is a #1 or #2. I bet he works the JUGGs machine religiously and practices his ass off.



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TDX27

Well-known member
Washington can easily be our No. 3. If Johnson can learn how to hold onto the ball like he did after he was benched last year, he, Claypool and Washington will make a nice top 3 WR crew unless we can get JuJu back as well. Apparently the Steelers like Ray Ray so he may be our No. 4 unless they pick up a cheap FA or draft someone.
 

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Hines57

Deliver the Macallan
I really feel like Washington has been overlooked in our offense. 2019, maybe that was because we had shitty QBs throwing the ball. In 2020, he didn't see as many opportunities as I would have expected. This is a kid who can play football. Hope he can have a bigger year next year.
 

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