Ben Roethlisberger calls out rookie wide receiver James Washington after big drop in loss to Broncos
Washington, a 2018 second-round pick, hasn't yet lived up to his draft billing
Ben Roethilsberger threw for 462 yards against the Broncos but managed a lone touchdown in the 24-17 loss. And it's the passes he didn't complete that leave a bad taste in his mouth after Denver snapped Pittsburgh's six-game winning streak.
On Monday, the veteran quarterback called out rookie wide receiver James Washington for botching what should've been a much easier catch -- and possibly a touchdown. Late in the third quarter and with the score tied, 17-17, Washington was wide open down the sideline. Roethlisberger let it go and instead of staying on his feet, this happened:
It looks nice, sure, but when you lay out for a ball and don't need to extend your arms to make the catch you probably should've stayed on your feet. Which brings us back to Roethlisberger.
"He has to make it," Big Ben said Monday during his weekly appearance on 93.7 The Fan, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "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."
Washington was targeted three times in Denver and didn't register a catch. For the season, the 2018 second-round pick has eight receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. That's a bad day for JuJu Smith-Schuster, the second-year wide receiver (also a former second-rounder) who also was inconsistent during the first half of his rookie season. Things didn't start to come together until Week 8, when Smith-Schuster had 193 receiving yards against the Lions. He then had four more games of at least 75 receiving yards and through 11 games this season Smith-Schuster already has 77 catches for 1,055 yards.
Washington, who was drafted to replace Martavis Bryant, hasn't come close to Smith-Schuster's rookie production at any point this season.
"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 Steelers will host the Chargers on Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC, stream on fuboTV (try for free).
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