The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves deep in an offensive rut. They struggle from nearly every basic aspect of running an offense. Yet, they continue to feature the same struggling players time after time. As drops, missed blocks, poor throws, and bad reads pile up however you will begin to see the Steelers turn to other sources in hopes of moving the ball. Much like how Mike Tomlin benched Diontae Johnson for starting the game against the Buffalo Bills with two drops.
As this offense continues to struggle I can't help but to think to myself where have the following four guys gone. In most cases the Steelers are just flat out not using these talented players. I believe working these guys into the offense with more frequency will only prove to help this struggling unit. So without further adieu here are the four players (and one honorable mention) that have disappeared from the Steelers offense and how they can better use them.
Honorable mention: Ray Ray McCloud.
McCloud is a fun gadget type player that brings a change of pace vibe with him when he checks into the game. While I would like to see him play more its hard to say a fifth wide receiver and probably the 8th best receiving option has disappeared in a offense.
The ‘Vanimal’ was the Steelers number one tight end for the past number of seasons. When Eric Ebron was first signed to the Steelers it was believed the duo would make for a double headed monster where teams had to pick their poison. Instead McDonald has faded into obscurity and not only does he not receive targets but he doesn't see the field much.
McDonald is clearly the best blocking tight end on the roster, and I think the Steelers just need to use him more by running more power style plays. imagine a bunch with McDonald, Ebron, and Chase Claypool. Try to stop that size.
James Washington has quietly been a beast this year. He has been making extremely clutch plays, and is a redbone weapon let alone his insane strength. But yet Washington is buried as the Steelers fourth receiver. If drops continue to be a problem for the other receivers I would just let Washington take full series at any given receiver spot. Just give Washington more opportunities.
Where to begin with Derek Watt. In three consecutive weeks Watt has been wide open in the end zone yet Ben Roethlisberger refuses to throw him the ball (and has thrown two egregious interceptions in those plays). Once a legitimate receiving option in the Los Angeles Chargers system, Watt has been relegated to a special teams player that occasionally plays on short yardage downs.
I completely blame the system for Watts failures. He needs to play more in the backfield in a three point stance or even as the lone back. He can block, he can catch, and he has sneaky good vision. Just give the man the ball every now and then. Fullbacks are still finding success around the NFL you know...
The Steelers rookie phenom receiver has gone AWOL the past few weeks. Mike Tomlin recently stated the reduction of play time was due to the club not wanting Claypool to hit the rookie wall. But with the highest ceiling of all the receivers maybe the Steelers should give Claypool some more routes. Be it over the top or underneath, it doesn't matter as long as he’s building chemistry with Big Ben. If that duo can hit their stride then Roethlisberger doesn't have to continue to force the ball to Diontae Johnson or Eric Ebron in hopes of trying to pull them out of their funk.
What do you think? How should the Steelers utilize these guys more? Let us know down in the comments below!