Smith-Schuster's stat line looks far closer to his rookie campaign than his breakout Year 2. Through eight games, the wideout has corralled 33 of 51 targets for 459 yards with 3 TDs. JuJu has just one game of 100 yards receiving this season. He generated eight 100-yard games (tied for third-most in the NFL) last year, en route to a 111 catches, 1,426 yards and seven TDs.
Despite the lackluster box scores from his No. 1 receiver, coach Mike Tomlin isn't worried about Smith-Schuster.
"I have no issues with how he has handled himself in some of those matchups," Tomlin said Tuesday, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "Statistics might not tell the story because of a lot of things going on around him. I like his work. I like his professionalism. I like how he wins his one-on-ones. Hopefully, it's a catalyst for us getting more traction and consistently moving the ball offensively."
Entering the season as the new No. 1, with Brown no longer there to provide favorable matchups, Smith-Schuster's year figured to be more of a struggle. JuJu hasn't done himself a ton of favors with several drops and has struggled to get off press coverage at times. Ben Roethlisberger's injury, however, exacerbated the situation.
Mason Rudolph's skittish play has tanked the entire passing operation. With the quarterback unable to quickly get through his progression, navigate a muddy pocket, or hit many downfield throws, the Steelers' offense has been relegated to a dink-and-dunk operation -- with most of those dinks going to running backs.
"We've dealt with some unique circumstances in terms of player availability and it dictates that our personality is adjusted accordingly," Tomlin said. "When we gain some traction in terms of player availability, maybe we can start talking about (getting the receivers more involved). Meanwhile, we better do what we can do with what we have available to us in an effort to win the game."
Getting almost zilch out of the passing game might be good enough to beat injury-plagued teams like Indianapolis at home, but if the Steelers are to claw their way back into the playoffs after a disastrous start, the offense needs to figure out how to get its best pass-catching weapon more involved. Tomlin can't count on other team's miscues bailing his offense out every week.