The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers were plagued by dropped passes. This problem seemed to get worse as the season went on and attributed to a number of their losses down the stretch. None of the Steelers receivers were hit harder by this problem than Diontae Johnson, and Eric Ebron. The former found himself benched on a number of occasions because of this problem. But will this trend continue in 2021?
Leaders in drops this season:— PFF (@PFF) February 8, 2021
Diontae Johnson - 15
Tyreek Hill - 13 pic.twitter.com/zA2ZQDK56o
In short, I don’t believe it will because the Steelers have the personnel in place to bench anyone who can't hold onto the football. We already saw Mike Tomlin punish Johnson for dropping passes, but the drafting of Pat Freiermuth has given the Steelers enough depth to put Eric Ebron on the shelf as well.
If this trend does continue the Steelers could be in for a long 2021 season. Dropped passes killed drives, and inevitably lost the team games. You can even point to a lot of Ben Roethlisberger’s problems on these drops which hurt his stats, which is all many of the national media will look at.
The Steelers re-signing JuJu Smith-Schuster gives Roethlisberger his most sure-handed receiver back. Plus, another year of Chase Claypool in the system means more chemistry with the quarterback, and another year of development. One other sneaky, well-handed option in the Steelers offensive arsenal is rookie running back Najee Harris who already admitted he expects some playing time in the slot.
It’s too easy to guess whether or not drops will continue to affect this team this season. But if it does, we will swiftly see playing time shift between the receivers. This year in particular weighs heavy on Diontae Johnson. With both Smith-Schuster and James Washington on expiring contracts, the Steelers will be watching Johnson’s performances closely and determine if they can move on without either of the free agents. If Johnson struggles they may opt to bring both guys back and let Diontae walk after his deal expires at the end of the 2022 season.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers receivers figure it out this year and hold onto the ball? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.