There were moments of brilliance from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receivers in 2020, and moments of utter disappointment.
During the Steelers’ worst stretch of the season, a trend developed among the pass catchers on the team. They simply couldn’t hold onto the ball, especially when it mattered the most. Brutal drops killed drives, eliminated moment and had a heavy hand in the team losing 5 of their last 6 games.
You don’t need to remind Steelers fans of the dropped passes, trust me, they remember. But when you look at the numbers you can see just how bad the drops were in 2020. Check out the drop rates among Steelers pass catchers in 2020, courtesy of the Steelers Pro Football Focus (PFF) Twitter page:
The worst of the above players is no doubt Dionate Johnson. Sure, he is atop the list, but it goes beyond leading the team in this category. Johnson also had more targets than Chase Claypool, Eric Ebron and James Washington. It gives him more opportunities to drop the football, which he did plenty of last season, but it also gives him a tremendous amount of opportunities to turn that percentage around.
When you look at dropped passes throughout Ben Roethlisberger’s career, the numbers are even more glaring when you look at the 2018-2019 season compared to 2020. This, again, from PFF:
Ben Roethlisberger # of dropped passes:— PFF (@PFF) February 19, 2021
2018 - 2019: 26
2020: 41 pic.twitter.com/JGP2QDBYvd
To be fair, Roethlisberger didn’t even play two full games in 2019, but the complete 2018 season combined with the season opener in New England in 2019 totaled just 26 dropped passes. 41 total drops in 2020 is simply inexcusable, and something which should be considered when you consider Ben Roethlisberger’s season as a whole.
Fans love to point to the Steelers’ losing steam down the stretch, and most point to Roethlisberger as the main culprit, but it wasn’t as if he was getting bailed out from his pass catchers. In fact, it was the total opposite.
If the Steelers hope to right the ship in 2021, as an offense, it will have to start with those responsible for catching the football to do their jobs better. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.