Despite being extremely productive throughout his 4 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, JuJu Smith-Schuster has one way or the other turn out to be one of many NFL’s extra controversial figures.
Unfairly or not, his identify has turn out to be equally as synonymous together with his varied extracurricular actions as his spectacular accomplishments on the gridiron. The 24-year-old skilled a rollercoaster in 2020; even because the Steelers gained the AFC North and his 97 catches ranked ninth within the league, the headlines about him centered on his TikTok dancing, or saying “the Browns is the Browns” earlier than dropping to those self same Browns by double digits within the playoffs.
The drama has continued into the offseason. When former Steelers left deal with Alejandro Villanueva joined the division-rival Ravens, he appeared to take a shot at Smith-Schuster, saying: “When you have a balanced offense, or when you run the ball, it’s obviously better for the offensive line. I’m assuming it’s not as fun for the wide receivers, because they’re not getting all the catches. They’re making the TikToks, and they’re having fun on their social media.”
Smith-Schuster hears the criticism.
“It’s part of their job,” he advised The Post. “People are going to criticize, it’s how the world is.”
He was additionally keen to extinguish that specific hearth, and put his former teammate’s phrases into context.
“For [Villanueva’s] stuff, I think what he was saying more so was that [he’d] prefer to be in a balanced offense than a more heavy passing offense. That’s honestly true, we couldn’t run the ball as much.”
Smith-Schuster did add, nevertheless, that “as far as the TikTok dances, [Villanueva] was a part of them. He was in my TikToks too, he was dancing, he was in Chase [Claypool]’s, too. As far as having fun, he had his fair share, too.”
Perhaps the Steelers may have extra enjoyable in 2021 if, as Smith-Schuster referenced, they’re ready to run the ball extra successfully. Pittsburgh ranked lifeless final within the NFL in dashing yards per sport in 2020, and the offense was particularly stagnant within the second half of the season. After beginning 11-0, they misplaced three straight video games, scoring lower than 20 factors in every defeat. They wanted a dramatic second-half comeback in opposition to the Colts in Week 16 to lock up the division.
It was round this time that Smith-Schuster’s “antics” turned a speaking level. Before each away sport, he danced on every opposing brand pre-game and posted it on his TikTok. As the workforce endured a dropping streak, opposing players started to call him out. “Let them do the talking, all the f–king dancing, we do the f–king work,” Bills QB Josh Allen was caught saying within the huddle earlier than a victory over the Steelers.
Smith-Schuster took an enormous hit from Bengals security Vonn Bell in an upset loss per week later, and Bell hinted that his dancing added further motivation behind the hit. “I see 19,” Bell mentioned on the time. After that sport, JuJu mentioned he would cease dancing on the logos for good.
He’s put that behind him and is now specializing in 2021, presumably the ultimate 12 months with Ben Roethlisberger underneath middle for the Steelers. They drafted Alabama working again Najee Harris within the first spherical to assist resolve their working sport, although some might argue their offensive line was the factor that wanted consideration early within the draft. They did draft middle Kendrick Green out of Illinois within the third spherical, but in addition misplaced Maurkice Pouncey to retirement – “our vet, our other captain on offense,” in accordance to Smith-Schuster. Villanueva is gone, as properly.
New offensive coordinator Matt Canada may have his palms full making an attempt to work out the working sport, however JuJu has religion, saying “he’s built for this.” As for the passing sport, Canada is already planning on getting Smith-Schuster concerned in several methods than simply within the slot: “Playing outside more, down the field, deep threat, moving around.”
He had higher-paying provides with different groups, however selected to take a one-year, prove-it deal to return to the Steelers for $8 million. There have been rumors within the offseason that he would depart Pittsburgh, however taking much less cash to play with Roethlisberger yet another time squashed them. He’s not shifting to Los Angeles or Las Vegas for the good thing about his TikTok profession – he’s all about ball, and is dead-set on proving his critics mistaken.