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What Makes a Drop a Drop and How Can the Steelers Stop Them?



What makes a drop a drop?

Everyone that watched the Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly defeat the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday afternoon would probably agree that Pittsburgh had too many, and presented a problem that certainly needs to be corrected.

But it’s also a problem that can be hard to define. How many drops did the Steelers have? Well, it’s subjective.

Drops are not an official NFL statistic, and what it is a drop and what isn’t is often in the eye of the beholder.

Pro Football Focus said the Steelers had five drops, the most they’ve given the Pittsburgh receivers in any single game this season. Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said after the game that he thought the team had “six or eight.”

Everyone can agree that when a quarterback hits a receiver in stride, with no defenders able to get their hands on him, and he doesn’t secure the ball, that’s a drop. But what about when there’s a defender all over his back, as happened to Chase Claypool at least twice on Wednesday. Or what happens if a pass isn’t perfectly thrown, but the receiver is still able to get their hands on it, only to drop it, as happened to Eric Ebron at least once?

“I need to be more accurate with my passes,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after the game. “ I need to give them better chances to make the plays. There weren’t some plays made today when they needed to be.”

The number of drops also needs to be put into context with the number of passes thrown. With starting running back James Conner and starting center Maurkice Pouncey both out on the COVID-19 reserve list, the team could not get the running game going early, leading Roethlisberger to set a season high with 51 passing attempts.

As with any problem, the causes are likely many things. The Steelers inability to run the ball put additional pressure on the passing offense. Roethlisberger left some passes in tough spots for his receivers and they just flat-out dropped some that they usually catch.

How to fix those problems?

“Got to go back, watch the film, go over it, and like I said, just make our plays or execute,” Smith-Schuster said. “Like I said, we really haven’t showed our complete offense yet. I think we played games that we start off super slow, we played games we start off super-fast and we just don’t finish at the end.”

It’s also worth mentioning that despite the drops and the offense’s inconsistency, the Steelers will work on those problems with an 11-0 record.

“At the end of the day, a win is a win and we keep moving forward,” Smith-Schuster said. “On to Washington.”


JuJu Smith-Schuster Asks Fans to Give him Space



JuJu Smith-Schuster is experiencing the negative side effect of living so much of his personal life in the public eye. The Steelers receiver, who is looking for a new NFL contract, took to Instagram to ask fans to leave him alone.

This stems from allegations that fans are showing up to his family home in California while he is there. Obviously, fans have no right to show up unwelcome anywhere to stalk an an athlete or celebrity, but this is just another example of the polarization of Smith-Schuster’s career. While he’s received much criticism, most notably this past season, for his sometimes over-the-top behavior and seemingly prioritizing his brand at all times, he also has many avid supporters who would stop at nothing to defend one of their favorite players.

Smith-Schuster is set to be a free agent in March for the first time in his professional career. If the Steelers should try to bring back the receiver has become a hot debate among Pittsburgh fans, so much so Smith-Schuster himself addressed the situation during a live Twitch sessions with fans.

Even Smith-Schuster’s play on the field is often up for debate. He totaled 97 receptions, but for only 831 yards with an average of just 8.6 yards per catch, which is significantly lower than his average from past seasons, including 15.8 his rookie year and 13.1 in 2019.

When it comes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, it’s always best to just stay tuned.

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Steelers’ Vance McDonald Reflects on Stiff Arm Moment, Relationship with Ben Roethlisberger



Steelers tight end Vance McDonald spoke to the media after officially announcing his retirement from the NFL. McDonald responded to a question about the play he’s most synonymous with by saying he embraces the famous stiff arm moment. He also detailed his interaction with Ben Roethlisberger when he told his quarterback he was planning to retire.

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Steelers TE Kevin Rader Aced Week 17 Audition, More Coming in 2021?



The Steelers have an opening in their tight ends room, as four-year starter Vance McDonald retired on Friday.

That leaves Eric Ebron as the team’s projected starter for 2021, and that won’t be a big change, as Ebron out-snapped McDonald and started nine games to McDonald’s 12. Without another veteran option, it’s likely the Steelers will use fewer two-tight end sets, but the issue of backups will need to be addressed.

Michigan product and former fifth-round pick Zach Gentry has yet to be a factor through two seasons and missed most of 2020 with an injury, but as he’s under contract and the team is facing a salary cup crunch, he seems likely to hold onto that job.

The Steelers have options for a third tight end, securing the services of Dax Raymond and Charles Jones on reserve/future contracts for the 2021 season on Thursday. But the man that seems most likely to step up into that role is third-year pro Kevin Rader.

Rader, a Pine-Richland and Youngstown State alum spent his second season with the Steelers in 2020, but got his first taste of action in Week 17 at Cleveland with the Steelers choosing to rest starters.

He made the most of the opportunity, particularly on special teams, where he played in nearly half of the team’s snaps, made three tackles and drew praise from head coach Mike Tomlin.

“Guys like Kevin Rader had an opportunity to step up and play,” Tomlin said. “I think he had three tackles on kickoff. For an offensive player to have that type of contribution in net, in a coverage unit I think was impressive. That’s good for him. That’s good for us as we move forward.”

Rader is also on a reserve/future contract, with no guaranteed money for 2021, but if he can continue to show the ability to contribute on special teams and help as a blocker, where McDonald excelled and Ebron does not, it seems that he can certainly carve himself out a role in Pittsburgh in 2021.

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