JuJu Smith-Schuster had an outstanding sophomore season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. However, since then, he hasn’t had quite the same amount of success, as he failed to record 850 receiving yards in each of the last two seasons.
While Smith-Schuster has received a lot of criticism the past two years, it hasn’t all been about his play on the field. Many fans and players haven’t been too fond of what he does on social media. In fact, Smith-Schuster’s TikTok account got him into some trouble with opposing teams throughout this past season. Now, Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter has something to say about Smith-Schuster’s social media antics.
JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t been as successful the past two seasons
JuJu Smith-Schuster was a second-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017, and he had two excellent seasons for Pittsburgh to start his career. In his rookie season, Smith-Schuster caught 58 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. He then followed that up with an incredible 2018 season, catching 111 passes for 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns. He ultimately earned Pro Bowl honors for his play that year, too.
However, he has not had as much success the past couple of seasons.
Smith-Schuster only played in 12 games in 2019, but he only caught 42 passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns. His yards-per-game average also went from 89.1 in 2018 to 46 per game in 2019. Then, in 2020, Smith-Schuster caught 97 passes for 831 yards and nine touchdowns. His TD catches were a career-high, but his yards-per-game average was still mediocre, as he averaged 51.9 per outing.
This has led to many people wondering if he focuses on social media a little too much.
He has built a brand on social media
Smith-Schuster has quite a few followers on Twitter, as he has reached over 1.1 million. He has also become pretty popular on Twitch and TikTok.
Additionally, throughout the 2020 season, part of Smith-Schuster’s pregame routine was dancing on the 50-yard line, and then later posting a video of his dances set to music on TikTok. Doing this on the opposing team’s logo, though, did not sit too well with the teams he played.
Before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals this year, Bengals safety Vonn Bell said this, according to Sports Illustrated: “It’s kind of disrespectful at the end of the day. But they’re on top right now so you can’t really say nothing right now. We just gotta go out there, between the lines, go out there and hit him and let him know where he stands.”
Bell then laid a massive hit on Smith-Schuster during the game, and the Bengals ended up getting the upset win over the Steelers.
A couple days after the game against the Bengals, Smith-Schuster said this, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor: “For me, I was dancing when we were undefeated, I was dancing when we lost our three games. I’m not going to change who I am. …I saw it more as not disrespect, but it’s for my fans on social media.”
It appears that Smith-Schuster will continue to try and grow his brand on social media. Cris Carter, though, doesn’t seem to like it.
Cris Carter isn’t a fan of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s antics
Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Jan. 25, and he had some interesting comments about Smith-Schuster.
“I had warned people on TV that I didn’t think JuJu Smith-Schuster was the replacement for [Antonio Brown]; I didn’t think he had the overall wide receiver ability to be able to dominate, even though he started off with a spectacular season,” Carter said. “Then I started to see how much he loved social media, and nothing wrong with social media, but I like to train my guys — become an expert at one thing first.”
He continued: “I prefer that to be your craft. I prefer that to be football. Then, we’ll branch out, we’ll work on your brand and everything, but your brand should be, ‘I’m damn good at what I do. They throw the ball in the air; I make magic happen.’ … I don’t believe in these guys trying to be stars on social media and stuff before they really understand what it means to be a pro and dominate the pro game. So, I’ve never really been a fan of that.”
Social media is great, and Smith-Schuster has done a great job of connecting with his fans. However, he should maybe listen to Carter so that his numbers can get back to where they were during his Pro Bowl season.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference