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It’s time for a JuJu Smith-Schuster break

Flash in the pan or true #1?

Flash in the pan or true #1?
picture: Getty Images

In March, JoJo Smith Schuster He signed a one-year, $10.75 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. Playing with Patrick Mahomes, this is the season to prove or lose. There are no other excuses if JuJu doesn’t play to the standards of the #1 receiver when the best young quarterback of this generation throws spirals at him.

JuJu has blown up the league before, but if he stared hard at the spacious parlour of the man who wore the number 12, he might have seen Ghost of Christmas Future staring again. It’s been nine years since Josh Gordon broke into the NFL consciousness with a 1,400-yard season and nine touchdowns in 2013. Due to a string of suspensions due to repeated violations of the NFL’s drug-use policies, Gordon hasn’t topped 1,000 yards since then and from distance. Earlier this week, Gordon was released. JuJu is not in danger of falling off the NFL radar like Gordon is. He’s five years younger, kept clean off the field, and somehow still holds the NFL record for youngest player to hit 2,500 yards. However, his inability to repeat 2018 is a similar frustration.

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Something similar happened with JuJu at USC. JuJu had his sophomore hit in 89 catches, more than twice the USC’s No. 2 catcher and 1,454 yards, and more than 1,000 yards than second receiver Adoree’ Jackson. His production waned during his first year as the Trojans looked to diversify their attack and concerns about JuJu’s super fast speed led to his relegation at the end of the second round as he was recruited by Pittsburgh.

Their lineage couldn’t be more different, but there are a bunch of similarities between Gordon and JuJu. Gordon’s 2013 season with the Cleveland Browns is the goofy gold standard for one-year wonder campaigns—especially for wide receivers. Captured in the 2011 supplemental draft after collecting only 43 passes for 721 yards in his college career, Gordon had modest success as a rookie, but no one saw him in 2013 Explosion at. The league’s leading 1,646 yards and nine touchdowns in 14 games set the NFL on fire. But like a meteor entering the atmosphere, Gordon burned on entry.

Whether it’s as a result of injuries, suspensions, or just catching up on defenses, the history of the NFL is littered with “now see ’em, now don’t” talents who sparked excitement and then sunk back into obscurity.

Peyton Hillis’ 1,200-yard season in 2010 made him one of the most underrated athletes to ever hit Madden. Ickey Woods’ 1,066 yards, 15 touchdowns en route to the Super Bowl XXIII berth for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Larry Brown’s Super Bowl MVP crowning the 1995 season are some of the most notable pan flash tours to the Big Game in league history.

JuJu had a fleeting moment in 2018. That year, teammate Antonio Brown was the cover athlete on Madden and then hit 10,000 yards in fewer games as a receiver alongside Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones. However, JuJu’s appearance was the highlight of that campaign.

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JuJu’s second season saw him break out of Brown’s shadow as he pulls 111 catches for 1,426 yards. The Steelers were so confident in their JuJu game, that Brown dispatched the NFL’s top three receivers. However, JuJu faltered with the weight of the upper tongs on his shoulders.

Three seasons later, JuJu has become known more for his TikToks than for his scrolling prowess. In his first full season as a receiver, JuJu scored a career low of 552 yards while playing through a toe injury and an MCL sprain. Pittsburgh boosted his disappointing performance to a JuJu season riddled with injuries and the fact that he was getting passes from career reserves Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. JuJu has spent most of the last two seasons in Pittsburgh watching Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool eat his targets. The skinny in JuJu is that he maxed out as a No. 2 receiver along with an all-time great player, but once he had the covers and upper backs installed on him, he lacked the technique or physical attributes to thrive.

There are some differences that should give hope to JuJu believers. In 2022, JuJu has a chance to return to glory as Mahomes’ number one target. Replacing Tyreek Hill would be a very difficult task. It would take a compound of Skyy Moore, Marquez-Valdes Scantling and Mecole Hardman to equal Tyreek Hill. Hardman is super fast, but his running style leaves a lot to be desired. Valdes-Scantling has always been a bundle of potential without the hack year showing it off.

If there’s anyone who can put a pacemaker into a JuJu career in the same way Tyreek Hill tries to wake Tua, it’s Patrick Mahomes. JuJu is in a better place now. But he will have to prove to be there after this season.

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