3 reasons why JuJu Smith-Schuster is the best receiver the Steelers could ask for

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19). Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

Ben is a first-ballot hall of famer, so you wouldn’t expect him to need a lot of help.

JuJu is giving Ben help anyway. The Pittsburgh Steelers have given Ben every quarterback’s dream. JuJu isn’t coming up to Ben complaining about getting 3 or 4 targets. JuJu isn’t throwing water coolers on the sidelines. JuJu isn’t live streaming post-game talks by the coach in the locker room. JuJu is not a diva, and he is still as consistent as they come. He can make plays when you need it. More so, he has no problem making plays without touching the ball.

Perhaps the biggest part of what JuJu does for Ben is not being a problem in the back of Ben’s head. He doesn’t have to get the ball to stay happy and that is a huge relief for a franchise quarterback. From 2011-2018, the majority of the Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown connection Ben threw more than 10 interceptions in 6 of those 8 seasons.

The two seasons he did not were in 2012 and 2014. In 2012 AB only played in 13 games starting just 10 of those. That means that of all the full seasons Ben played with AB at the height of his powers Ben kept his interception total under 10 only one time. Two of Ben’s 3 highest interception totals on a season came during the Ben-AB era. When Ben can just focus on finding the open receiver instead of keeping his number 1 receiver happy, then he can play efficient football.

Without having to focus on giving his number 1 receiver the ball all the time Ben is throwing fewer interceptions. It also helps that the guys Ben is throwing to are open pretty often. A large part of that has to do with JuJu as well. JuJu is giving Ben more options to throw to with his presence taking attention away from the defense, while not making a fuss when Ben chooses to go to those options. When JuJu gets his opportunities he does deliver. That makes him as good of a #1 wide receiver as Ben has had in a very long time.

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I don’t think the Pittsburgh Steelers should sign JuJu to a super-max contract like they did for Antonio Brown a few years ago. However, I do think they should sign their number 1 receiver to number 1 type of money. I just can’t picture any of these other wide receivers coming in next season and taking up a leadership role within that group. More so, I don’t picture any of them having the same kind of success as they are having now without JuJu’s presence on the field.