Steelers have found a way to get the job done without JuJu Smith-Schuster
The Steelers host the Buffalo Bills this weekend. Here’s why Pittsburgh can find a way to win without wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster.
It’s never ideal for a team to have to weather the storm without their franchise quarterback. While we knew Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t returning this year, many thought Steelers would get JuJu Smith-Schuster back this weekend against the Buffalo Bills.
After dealing with a concussion, Pittsburgh’s top wide-out has had a lingering knee injury. All signs seemed positive that JuJu would suit up this week, but after an unfortunate setback in practice on Thursday, Smith-Schuster has been ruled out of Sunday night’s game against the Bills:
To the surprise of many, the Steelers have still found a way to get the job done in JuJu’s absence. In fact, Pittsburgh is seeking their 4th consecutive win without Smith-Schuster ever setting foot on the field. How is this possible?
For starters, the Steelers defense has been the best in the league since Week 4 – surrendering just 15.7 points per game and taking the ball away at a higher rate than any team in the league. While his absence would seem like the final nail in the coffin for a team without its franchise quarterback, the offense has done surprisingly well without him.
Part of the reason for this is the emergence of James Washington and Diontae Johnson. Washington has been one of the league’s most efficient receivers since JuJu went down, and he has caught nearly everything thrown at him.
Likewise, rookie Diontae Johnson is following suit. Though he has struggled at times this season, his best game came last week without JuJu on the road in Arizona. The young receiver earned 6 catches on 8 targets for 60 yards and a touchdown. He was also responsible for an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Steelers an early lead.
The Bills are going to be a challenging opponent. Like Pittsburgh, they have a rock-solid defense and are known for keeping teams under 20 points. Washington and Johnson will need to impressive yet again if the Steelers want any chance of putting up touchdowns on Sunday night.
A win against the Bills would be monumental for the Steelers and would give them the tiebreaker against Buffalo in the wildcard seeding if both teams finished with the same record. With another week of practice and chemistry between Washington, Johnson, and quarterback Devlin Hodges, we are hoping for another key performance from these guys tonight.