Steelers rookie wide receiver James Washington seems to have struggled with confidence all season. The Oklahoma State product and Pittsburgh’s second-round pick has caught just eight of 25 targets, a 32-percent rate that is the lowest among NFL receivers with at least 11 targets, reports TribLive.
In Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos, Washington was 0 for 3 on passes thrown his way, and the only player of the 10 players that were targeted that didn’t register a catch. The most crucial drop of the game came on second-and-8 from the Steelers 41 with 4:40 left in the third quarter. For some reason, Washington dove for a ball that he could have easily ran underneath, breaking a 17-17 tie.
The sure TD resulted in a punt after Big Ben threw incomplete pass intended for Antonio Brown. The Steelers would go on to lose by a touchdown.
After the game, Roesthlisberger criticized Washington extensively.
“He has to make it,” Big Ben said Monday during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “I just think he didn’t trust his hands. For some reason, he jump/dove. I’m not really sure what he was doing. We look at it (on film), and coach got on him pretty good yesterday. We took a long, hard look at it. James needs to run through that, and it’s a touchdown.”
“Yes, he’s a rookie, but you’re not going to be out there if you’re not going to make those plays for us,” Roethlisberger said, adding “He needs to have confidence in himself. When you have trust and confidence in yourself, you use your hands and you catch the ball. I felt like when he jumped and dove, whatever you want to call it, it showed a lack of confidence in himself and his hands.”
The drop contributed to breaking the Steelers six-game winning streak. Washington will have another crack at redemption against the Chargers on Sunday.
[h/t CBS Sports]