Todd Haley On Smith-Schuster: ‘There’s A High Energy Violence To His Game’

You could’ve replaced “Hines Ward” in that headline and it wouldn’t have missed a beat. That’s how JuJu Smith-Schuster has been tabbed as since the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him this April. He’s not allowed to drink. But he can sure block. That’s endeared himself to Todd Haley and the rest of the offense.

Sitting down with Bob Labriola on this week’s edition of Coordinator’s Corner, Haley praised Smith-Schuster’s attitude and development.

“He’s a big guy that is into blocking,” Haley said. “Which, not all receivers, you get that feel from him. There’s a high energy violence to his game. Which even if he’s wrong, he’s doing it all full speed and making guys aware that he’s in there. In the run game, in a game like that, he’s a huge component of what we’re trying to get done.”

Haley is referring to the big running output in last Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. Smith-Schuster had another decleating block on Bell’s first touchdown and the Steelers often asked their receivers to crack the safety, which he seemed to do much more effectively than say, Martavis Bryant.

Apparently an avid golf fan as well, Haley compared him to one of that game’s young stars.

“He’s kind of like the Jordan Spieth of the NFL. You hear that Jordan Spieth is winning majors and you listen to him and you think he’s 30 something years old. But he’s just a kid. And much like JuJu, even though he’s a high energy guy, he’s much more mature from a football standpoint. Which we love.”

Jordan Spieth was 21 years old when he won the 2015 Masters, the second youngest in golf history to do so (thank you Wikipedia). 

Smith-Schuster had already cut heavily into Eli Rogers’ snap count prior to last week. With Rogers inactive against the Ravens, Smith-Schuster played 71% of the snaps, a number he’ll likely hover around, or increase, each week that Rogers does not suit up.

He already has found the end zone twice on 14 targets and has shown unusually impressive chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are excited about him and Smith-Schuster’s attitude is one of just plain excitement. Odds are strong he’ll continue to bring energy, and impact, to the Steelers’ offense the rest of the season.

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    He looks like a beast physically out there!

  • Jtgibs

    Anyone heard a single negative about this kid since we drafted him?

  • 2winz

    and Ben said something along the lines of Eli was the best slot receiver hes ever played with. how disrespectful to Hines Ward who did everything.. catch, run, block, even had a flop in 07 or 08 that would make lebron james proud!

  • Steel-on-Target

    I wasn’t a huge fan of this pick initially, but JuJu is quickly making a believer out of me! Young, physical, and seems to be picking up the playbook quickly and establishing a rapport with his qb/teammates.

    I know lots of folks don’t care, but I’m not sensing any diva or “young money crew” qualities. Really hope he continues to keep head on straight!

  • MC

    Love me some JuJu. That block in the Vikings game when he pulled like a guard gave me chills. This offense needs maulers and lunch pale guys, when they come out flat, a big hit can light a fire under em.

  • FATCAT716

    Are you sure he said that? Really can’t see him saying that

  • FATCAT716

    I don’t sense anything but a workman like attitude. I wasn’t crazy about the pick but each game I’m becoming a bigger fan of it

  • JimK-51

    It didn’t hurt that he spent some quality time with Hines Ward at training camp this past summer either..

  • Rogers is a good football player and slot receiver–no question! As an UDFA, he was a a good find who can play impactful NFL football as a starter. I’m REALLY glad he’s a Steelers and believe he’ll produce if needed–as he certainly against the Ravens last Christmas!!! That said, he’s not and never was a second round talent…a top four or five receiver in a WR-loaded draft class. Nor does he offer the variety of skills sets or physical mismatches that Juju offers. It’s a GREAT problem for Haley to have!

  • RyanW

    I hope him and Martavis blow it up blow it up this week I have them and Ben on my fantasy team haha

  • LHW

    Probably just talking about actually catching the ball. Rogers seems to be much more athletic than Ward. Ward was a better blocker, better at getting under the other team’s skin, a much higher profile persona with a strong on-field presence.

  • sixnine

    hines was not a slot receiver…Hines was a true wr1 possession type…that was no slight on Hines.Name a slot receiver that has played with Ben….

  • cencalsteeler

    Ju Ju was a defender in his younger days. Threw hits like Troy!

  • rystorm06

    Totally, I remember some games where the Steelers came out flat, and Hines either made a big play or hit and it fired the team up, then it just totally changed the direction the game was going in. Would be great to see him become that type of player. Since Hines left, the team has been lacking a bit of that x factor

  • jsteeler

    Bye bye Eli.

  • jsteeler

    nobody cares.

  • Frank Cordaro

    I have watched a few USC games and he was one player that caught my eye every game, now Im not saying he’s Ward but love his physical play I do miss a player like Ward doing the dirty work keep up the work JuJu. Some fellow Steeler friends thought this was another wasted pick.

  • Steve

    Towards the end of his career, Ward was a slot receiver.

  • Steve

    Smith-Schuster legally hyphenated his last name after he turned 18, adding Schuster in honor of his stepfather

  • Steve

    When he first came on the team he was hurt a lot.

  • CP72

    And at 20 he’s nowhere near his physical peak. There were some Anquan Boldin comparisons when he was coming out. He could very well end up with a Boldin body type by the time he’s 24-25 years old.

    Juju seems to have some dog in him which was also a Boldin trait. Excited about this kid.

  • Conserv_58

    Let’s not forget that JuJu happens to be the youngest player in the league at twenty years of age. Just imagine what he’s going to be like at twenty-four with four years accrued.

  • Conserv_58

    Not so fast. If anything, Eli adds great depth as a slot receiver.

  • Conserv_58

    Those types of plays are contagious and inspirational to other players. They can add a spark of excitement that gets the other players to respond in kind.

  • Conserv_58

    I beg to differ with you. I’ve never seen, heard or read any such comment from Ben. I have heard Ben say that Eli has really improved over last year. Ben complimented Eli on putting in a lot of hard work in the off season and it shows this season.

  • Doug Sawyer

    no he wasn’t Randel El was

  • pittsburghjoe

    High energy violence. That’s a rare commodity for a WR. If he can pair it with good receiving skills, he could have a 15 year career in the NFL.

  • SilverSteel

    I remember him saying something very similar to that. Two years ago in training camp. He said Eli had the “potential” to be…. so, not adding the word potential, may have him remembering the quote differently.

  • SilverSteel

    Funny you picked Wallace instead of our own diva, AB.

  • SilverSteel

    Momentum changers… it’s a beautiful thing

  • 2winz

    Hines was pretty darn good with catching the football, so idk how that could be the argument for rogers. Hines made some of the toughest catches a receiver could make in crowded situations

  • 2winz

    I am 100% sure, I just dont remember where I saw it. it could have been on here or espn or nfl website

  • 2winz

    I did take that into consideration, You’re right that he played outside but he actually lined up in the slot many times too from what I recall.

  • 2winz

    I can’t find the source but I’m thinking it was on ESPN that I saw it because I remember Stephen A Smith. I admit that I never heard Ben actually say it so it could have been a fake headline or misquoted, but I know for sure I saw it.

  • 2winz

    its also hard to find on youtube because you type “ben roethlisberger talks about eli rogers” and you get big ben and eli manning popping up -.-

  • LHW

    I agree, both are athletic. So who knows. Ben has made some observation that made him say what he said. My eyes say Eli appears to be quicker, faster, more reactive, etc.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Will be starting in less than 2yrs.

  • Zach Bolen

    Also he took an uber to camp.

  • Cullen James Riley

    Lack of discipline – penalties in every game.

    But that’s something that can be fixed through coaching and time. I love this kid.

  • Steve

    Thats funny – taking a uber to camp;).

  • 2winz

    yeah true! different style of players but Hines was a perfect outside and slot receiver for us! a player like Hines Ward comes around once in a lifetime, so I’m glad that we have JuJu because he reminds me of Hines!

  • LHW

    Hines was definitely tougher. Hell, he was tougher than most linebackers. Maybe Ju Ju can embody both!

  • 2winz

    Hines played both outside and inside, depending on the play. back when we had santonio holmes and nate washington for example or limas sweed, they would shift hines inside. it just depended on what the personnel was. That’s what I recall, Im sure you can youtube it, and see him play slot frequently

  • 2winz

    thank yoouu! it was definitely before the season had begun, and he said something like that. I didnt remember the exact quote whether he said he had the potential to be or if he said he thought he already was, thats why i said Ben said something along those lines.

  • 2winz

    exactly, he was the only offensive player to be included on the “renegade” hightlights that would play. He was a true Steeler through and through!