It is Wednesday, and usually the last day to digest the week that was, before turning the page to the upcoming opponent. But for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were crushed by the New England Patriots in Week 1 of the 2019 regular season, this loss might linger.
There are a myriad of questions fans have after the 33-3 shellacking by Tom Brady and company, but one of the biggest questions I had in my head had nothing to do with the Patriots. In fact, it had everything to do with the black-and-gold, and certain decisions which were made.
What question topped my list when it pertains to Week 1?
Why in the world did Donte Moncrief play so much, and James Washington so little?!
Thanks to Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus (PFF), he was able to provide snap percentages for the Steelers’ wide receiving corps. The numbers are shocking...
Pittsburgh Steelers' WR snap percentages:— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) September 11, 2019
JuJu Smith-Schuster - 90%
Donte Moncrief - 90%
Ryan Switzer- 67%
James Washington - 52%
Diontae Johnson - 36%
Johnny Holton - 10%
Of course, JuJu Smith-Schuster playing 90% of the snaps is spot on. He is the No. 1 receiver. But Moncrief playing 90%, and James Washington just 52%? This left me scratching my head.
Before rushing to judgement, I scampered over to the Steelers’ website to check the official depth chart, and to see if any changes had been made heading into the team’s Week 2 game vs. the Seattle Seahawks.
No changes were made. Moncrief was still listed as the No. 2 receiver opposite Smith-Schuster.
While I am not suggesting the Steelers need to make a brash decision and alter the depth chart after one performance, I am suggesting they need to try and find a combination of receivers who not only work well together, but with Ben Roethlisberger. In other words, the percentage between any receiver not named Smith-Schuster, and Johnny Holton, should be much more even in Week 2, compared to Week 1.
Personally, I would love to see what the Steelers’ offense would look like with Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson on the field together. Johnson at least popped on the screen during the game when he was given the opportunity, while we all know what Moncrief brought to the table.
Again, Moncrief could, and hopefully does, bounce back and become a big-time contributor to the offense, but if Week 1 is just the beginning, it could be a slow and painful death regarding his time in Pittsburgh.
The hope is the Steelers don’t spend too much time banging their heads against the proverbial wall. Be willing to make a change, in-game if necessary. If, or should I say when, they decide to give Moncrief another shot, and his performance from Week 1 spills over into Week 2, you have to get him off the field, especially with capable receivers waiting in the wings behind him.
Either way, the Steelers are looking for answers offensively, and the hope is they find their combination of receivers sooner, rather than later.