JuJu Smith-Schuster has become another standout in the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver factory. Selected in the second round, 62nd overall, in the 2017 NFL Draft, Smith-Schuster evolved into a very good NFL wide receiver. He spent the first few seasons alongside Antonio Brown as the team’s No. 2 receiver, before eventually taking the over as the top target for Ben Roethlisberger for a few seasons.
In five seasons with the Steelers, the USC product evolved into Roethlisberger’s security blanket, essentially. In 66 games which included three playoff appearances, he caught 344 passes for 4,043 yards and 29 total touchdowns. While the last few years didn’t exactly go according to plan, he still ends up eighth in team history in catches and 12th in receiving yards and TD catches. His 61.2 receiving yards per game is fifth-best in team history. You get it, he was one of the best WR’s to put on a Steelers uniform.
Like Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, and many other WR’s in team history though, Smith-Schuster ended up leaving via free agency. Unlike the others, he did sign a one-year deal after his rookie contract was up. Then, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in the off-season, as it seemed both sides were just ready to move on. The Steelers drafted his “replacement” in George Pickens, although the two don’t exactly play the same position or fill the same role.
On the Sunday Night Football telecast on NBC, sideline reporter Melissa Stark said Smith-Schuster told her that he has already learned more offense in Kansas City than in his five years with the Steelers. Former NFL linebacker, LaVar Arrington, captured a recording of Stark’s reporting during Sunday night’s contest between the Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
— LaVar Leap Arrington (@LaVarArrington) October 3, 2022
First, this is no diss to the Steelers. Okay, well maybe, but fans shouldn’t take it that way. Look at the offensive coordinators that Smith-Schuster dealt with in Pittsburgh: Randy Fichtner and one season of Matt Canada as well as Todd Haley. Those aren’t exactly offensive masterminds or gurus. Haley is the best of the group, and that’s certainly saying something. Nowadays, Steeler fans would love to have Haley back.
Keep in mind that Smith-Schuster has just that, an offensive guru in Kansas City with head coach, Andy Reid. Offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy has also established himself as arguably the best guy in the league at his position. Somehow, despite several interviews over the years, Bieniemy has yet to be hired as a head coach. His time will likely come, but Smith-Schuster is truly dealing with two of the biggest offensive masterminds in the NFL.
On top of that, he plays with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce. Those two are arguably the best at their respective positions and seem to be a lock for the Hall of Fame one day. Smith-Schuster got to play with Brown, Roethlisberger, and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh, but the coaches make the experience different.
As we’ve come to know, Canada’s play-calling isn’t exactly rocket science or hard for defensive coordinators to figure out. Additionally, head coach Mike Tomlin is more of a defensive-minded coach anyways. Perhaps this does sour a potential reunion down the road with the Steelers, but he isn’t wrong with this assessment. While Smith-Schuster is still searching for his first touchdown with the Chiefs, he has at least eight targets in three of their four games so far.
What do you guys think of this comment? Would you welcome a reunion down the road? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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