The Pittsburgh Steelers are still searching for the right combination at the wide receiver position to help the offense move effectively. In Week 1, a 33-3 dud vs. the New England Patriots, Donte Moncrief saw more passes head his way than anyone else wearing a black-and-gold jersey.
Of Moncrief’s 10 targets, he caught three of them for just seven yards. Of those passes which weren’t caught, almost all were drops.
Moncrief’s performance was so bad he called it his “worst game ever”, but also cited the dislocated finger he suffered during training camp might be a reason for his erratic play on the football field.
This per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN:
Coming off what he calls “my worst game ever,” Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Donte Moncrief will continue to play through a dislocated finger suffered in training camp. "(Ben Roethlisberger) is depending on me and I've got to make plays for him, hurt finger or not."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) September 11, 2019
No one is suggesting Moncrief’s injured digit wouldn’t make his job as a receiver more difficult. However, if the injury is bad enough that it is impacting his play on the field, shouldn’t the coaching staff take that into consideration? After all, Moncrief has yet to show up on any injury report since the regular season began due to the finger.
Moncrief, a free agent acquisition of the Steelers, will need to step up his game if he wants to keep the No. 2 wide receiver designation next to his name on the official depth chart. In the meantime, there are players like James Washington and Diontae Johnson just chomping at the bit to get more repetitions on game day.
Fans are piling on Moncrief after his poor debut with the Steelers, but the fan base should also look at the larger picture, that being Randy Fichtner’s game plan, as another reason why the Steelers’ offense failed to produce a touchdown in their first game action of the regular season. The entire offensive failure doesn’t fall solely on Moncrief’s shoulders.
With that said, I can’t help but think Moncrief’s leash might be shortening with the team as the year progresses. I don’t believe he will be benched if he has another performance similar to the one he had in Week 1 this Sunday at Heinz Field vs. the Seattle Seahawks. But I am suggesting he could see his playing time decrease if that indeed does occur.
In the meantime, the Steelers will hope Moncrief bounces back, and if he does it could go a long way in helping the Steelers rebound, and claim their first victory of the 2019 season.