USC Football legend JuJu Smith-Schuster has had a rough quarterback situation around him in his NFL career. When his career started, the QB play was pretty good, as Ben Roethlisberger still had it at the time. Smith-Schuster made his mark on the league early; catching 58 balls for 917 yards and seven touchdowns as just a rookie.
That team made the playoffs, receiving a first round bye. JuJu caught a touchdown in that game. The next year, however, the team fell off the rails. Toxicity crept into the locker room as the team addressed Le'Veon Bell's choice to hold out poorly. The team had talent, but other cancers swept in as well. Antonio Brown went off the rails, and tried to divide the locker room and slandered JuJu at every turn.
He was upset that JuJu went off for 111 grabs for 1,426 yards, with AB not performing that way and seeing his career hit a decline. Roethlisberger and the Steelers lost control of the locker room, yet Smith-Schuster kept balling. It showed that even when JuJu had instability around him, and particularly a QB who wasn't leading and controlling the locker room--JuJu could still perform.
The next year, however, Roethlisberger lost it. The year before, he lost the intangibles to lead a football team through adversity (but at least could generate good numbers on paper). In 2019, however, he lost the tangible qualities that make a quarterback. Then, after two terrible performances (56.5% Comp %, 351 yards, 0 TDs to 1 INT), he was hurt and out for the season.
The signal-callers for JuJu that year ended up being Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges. They were no better, and as expected, JuJu's numbers dropped. The next season, JuJu had better numbers due to Roethlisberger at least being an upgrade over the other two, but Roethlisberger had lost his magic. The same story repeated itself in 2021 with Roethlisberger even further declining, and being forced to finally retire.
Ex-USC football receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will finally now have good QB play.
Former elite USC Football Wide Receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster would have to now have the lowly Mitch Trubisky throwing him passes if he stayed in Pittsburgh, as that is their new starting quarterback. He made the smart move to head to Kansas City, where he will now play with arguably the best QB in football.
Patrick Mahomes and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a terrific combo. Remember, all Smith-Schuster needed was the 2018 version of Roethlisberger to post big numbers. Seemingly the entire team underachieved, yet Smith-Schuster still found a way to put up gaudy numbers. Now that Smith-Schuster will have arguably the greatest talent in the history of the sport tossing him passes, he'll be able to prove just how special he is.
We know he can do it. He was being held back by the Steelers. Remember when he put up 13(!) catches for an insane 157 yards and a touchdown in Pittsburgh's 2020-2021 playoff game, but he got relentlessly attacked after the game? Smith-Schuster balled out of control in that contest. His QB let him down, turning the ball over FOUR times, robbing the standout WR of a chance to turn the tides of that game.
His teammates didn't get the job done, yet JuJu was the one who took the heat for it due to comments earlier in the week that he literally backed up on the field. If he had a supporting cast, he would have never lost that game and been subject to the undeserved criticism.
Now, Smith-Schuster winds up on a winner. He had the chance to dart from Pittsburgh last year, but showed how loyal of an athlete he is by staying. Now, it was time for him to leave, and he's with a team who will have an elite offense that can utilize his strengths perfectly.
Think of how often he'll be open underneath Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman's vertical routes. Heck, Andy Reid and Eric Bienemy will probably even find ways to include him on their downfield passing game. They know exactly what they're doing by adding a route-runner with as diverse a route tree as Smith-Schuster.
Smith-Schuster is a well-liked teammate, and despite him being injured last year, he came back for the playoffs (and was tied for the team lead in catches). He's healthy now, and he's ready to have a tremendous season for the Chiefs. The former second-round pick has already represented SC well, and will continue to put a good name on the best wide receiver university in the country.