James Washington Still Vital to Steelers Offense

Isaiah J. Downing - USA Today Sports

By: John Walker, @realjohnwalker

With the Pittsburgh Steelers getting their future Hall of Fame QB Ben Roethlisberger back at the helm in 2020, everyone is ready to put the offensive woes of last season in the rear view mirror. The Steelers boast a young and promising wide receiver group that is expected to step up and make plays for their veteran quarterback. Several fans are anticipating a bounce back season from JuJu Smith-Schuster after a disappointing 2019 campaign. Many are eager to see Diontae Johnson take that next step and become a household name after a very solid rookie season last year. And everyone is excited to see Pittsburgh’s shiny new weapon in rookie Chase Claypool after they selected him in the 2nd round (their first selection) of this year’s NFL Draft.

All three of these guys are locked, loaded, and ready to go for the Steelers this upcoming season. But there’s an underrated wide receiver in that group who is flying under the radar and will look to again be a vital piece to Pittsburgh’s offense. We should all be excited to see how he builds on his best season as a pro in which he was the team’s leading receiver. Of course, I’m talking about James Washington.

Perhaps Washington doesn’t get talked about as much as he should because of his reserved personality. He isn’t brash, loud, or flashy like several of today’s wide receivers in the NFL. He’s quiet, reserved, hard working, and just has a no-nonsense vibe to him. His work ethic is blue collar, and it’s something that I (and many Steelers fans should) appreciate about him a ton. Washington doesn’t talk or draw attention to himself. His physical style of play does that for him. And last season, which was only his second in the NFL, proved that James Washington (on the field) has a lot to say.

Despite a rotating door of inconsistent QB play, Washington still enjoyed a stellar sophomore season. In 15 games, he boasted a stat line of 44 catches, 735 yards, and 3 touchdowns. As mentioned earlier, the 735 receiving yards was good enough to lead the team in that category. His big play ability jumped out on multiple occasions last season, and that is reflected by his average of 16.7 yards per reception. That number was also good enough to lead the Steelers.

Throughout the season, Washington flashed the intangibles that showed why the Steelers selected him with their second pick in the 2018 draft. He stretched the field, made several contested, combative, and circus catches, was able to make adjustments over the middle, threw pancake blocks, and overall just provided a spark for an offense that lacked it.

Now that he’s had another off-season to grow and will once again have Ben Roethlisberger throwing him the ball, it’ll be interesting to see the jump he takes in year 3. He’s a perfect fit for this offense and his toughness and ability are the ideal compliment to the other guys around him.

I know I’m excited about him. I’m sure Big Ben is excited about him. Steeler fans from all over should be excited about him. So tell us #SteelerNation, what are your predictions for James Washington’s 2020 season stat line?

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