After a lot of turnover in the wide receiver room in Kansas City, can JuJu Smith-Schuster prove to be the leader of the bunch?
After many weeks of training camp and the first preseason game, we still have yet to see who is emerging from the wide receiver room. But one name keeps popping up as the potential leader, JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu has been spectacular in camp and has been making big plays, but he didn’t have a single catch in the Chiefs’ opening drive against Chicago.
The chemistry between Patrick Mahomes and JuJu has been noticeable, they seem to find the right spots on most plays and JuJu has brought a physicality to the position the Chiefs have been lacking. According to Head Coach Andy Reid, the new offensive duo is going to be hard to stop this year.
JuJu is looking to find his footing in an explosive offense again, after having to play with the elder Ben Roethlisberger the past two seasons. When he did have a quarterback who could throw the ball, he was explosive and had a mean streak in the blocking game. Even though he only had 129 receiving yards last season due to a broken collarbone, the Chiefs expect him to come in and do the dirty work he did when he was with the Steelers. JuJu doesn’t sound too worried about taking the starting role though, he seems like he just wants to compete.
“I think that with this offense this year we’ve got so many guys who do so many different things, so it’s all-around. We’re not just ‘hey, you go here and you go there.’ Everyone plays every position. Everyone knows what everyone is doing. That right there helps us out a lot going into the season.” Smith Schuster said.
The Chiefs do have a lot of fantastic weapons at their disposal this season; Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Jody Forston, and JuJu will have shots to be seen as the number one option. There will be many men for Mahomes to choose from, so Smith-Schuster will need to do all he can to stand out right away, the most important thing is can JuJu be steady and make the right plays.
With a revamped offense that is not focused on one specific wide receiver like it was when Tyreek Hill was the primary wide receiver, the ball will be distributed to many people. This means that Smith-Schuster should be productive and efficient this season, piling up completions after completions, or that’s what the front office is hoping for.
Right now, JuJu Smith-Schuster might be the number one receiver on the depth chart and he catches passes from the most talented quarterback in the league, Patrick Mahomes. However, Mahomes’ first option will probably still be Travis Kelce, which takes away a bit of pressure off Smith Schuster‘s back. But JuJu has no pressure on him to live up to the lofty expectations people put on him, he only cares about trying to win football games and competing.
Andy Reid and Brett Veach have built a brand new team around Reid’s offense, giving more space for each receiver to flourish. Smith-Schuster will still have to prove that he can be the number one option in camp and in the last two preseason games. JuJu has all of the ability to play as the number one receiver and only time will tell as we head towards the regular season.